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Holiday Cheer for CPS Students!

Hundreds of Cincinnati Public Schools (CPS) students celebrated the holidays a little early thanks to jolly old Santa Claus, funk legend Bootsy Collins and the support of a caring community. 

It was part of the annual Toyful Joyful event emceed by WCPO Meteorologist Steve Raleigh. Nearly 600 students from Frederick Douglass School, Rothenberg Preparatory Academy and Academy of Multilingual Immersion Studies filled Duke Energy Convention Center for several holiday activities including lunch and story time with his Bootsy Collins’ wife, Patti. 

Patti Every student also received a gift which they had to patiently wait to open until a special countdown from the man himself – Santa Claus! 

“Some of my students wake up on Christmas and don’t have any presents to open,” said Frederick Douglass School Principal Jeffery Hall. “The community has really wrapped their arms around us and made sure that all of my students have a special holiday season.”

The Toyful Joyful event began 27 years ago when Karen Schupp approached then CPS teacher Dr. Alesia Smith in the grocery store line and asked what they could do to help her classroom. 

“This started because one teacher asked for a Christmas party,” said Toyful Joyful Volunteer Hillary Tate. 

That first year included toy donations and staff and volunteers cooking a meal for a small group of students. 

Dr. Smith, who is now CPS Chief of Schools, said the event has truly evolved over the years. 

“It has grown out of love,” points out Dr. Smith. “This is the best example of ‘Being Present’ – it’s about how we connect with our community. That we bring in people that want to be a part of us, to pour into our young people so they can become the best versions of themselves.”

Duke Energy provided the location for this year’s event, along with lunch and some of the gifts. Additional gifts were made possible thanks to the generous support of Meijer, Mercy McAuley High School, Payton’s Lemonade Stand and the Bootsy Collins Foundation.