The message on the back of Humphries Elementary School t-shirts is simple and concise: “Attendance Matters. Every Student. Every Day.”
On Thursday, with a big boost from community partner Cigna Healthcare of Atlanta, the administration, faculty and staff at Humphries rewarded those students who not only wore the message on their backs this semester, but adopted it as a way of life. All 210 students with perfect or near perfect attendance (no more than two absences) since ‘Day One’ of the school year received one toy of their choosing.
A donation of $8,830 from employees at Cigna’s metro Atlanta office in Alpharetta, paid for the gifts.
“Every kid deserves a new toy for Christmas,” said Rich Novack, president and general manager at Cigna in Atlanta, who personally paid for one gift – a tablet. “This partnership with Humphries is a great opportunity for us to give back to the community, and what they are doing at Humphries is just incredible.”
Cigna has had a partnership with Humphries through the national “Blessings in a Backpack” program, which provides elementary school students who qualify under the federal free and reduced lunch program with a backpack full of food to take home each weekend of the school year. This year, the company decided to do more and implemented a voluntary donation drive to provide new toys for Humphries students with perfect or near-perfect attendance this semester (two absences or less). The donations from Cigna Atlanta employees was matched by the corporate office in Connecticut.
Humphries serves children from one of the most economically challenged communities in Atlanta. Along with perfect or near-perfect attendance, students had to be in good academic standing with a track record of being respectful while showing good citizenship as well.
“We are so grateful to Cigna,” said Humphries Elementary Principal Melanie Mitchell. “These kids deserve this reward and we’re just on cloud nine that Cigna could help make this happen!”
Students favored tablets, ordering a total of 72, but the list of requested gifts included bicycles, doll houses, train sets, remote control cars, planes and helicopters, toy ovens and football equipment.
The 210 students were also treated to a visit to the exclusive Commerce Club in downtown Atlanta, which included an appearance by Freddie the Falcon, the mascot of the Atlanta Falcons. All students will write thank you letters to the school partners and supporters who made it possible for them to receive their gifts.
“We want them to know that it is important for them to show gratitude when someone does something nice for you,” Mitchell said. “A lot of people helped make this possible. Everything happened so quickly, but we were able to get it done. It’s a great way to end the semester.”