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Holiday Joy for Kyrene Families: Officer, Counselors & Donations Provide Essentials, Gifts

Posted December 2023


In the spirit of compassion and community, nearly 100 people from 18 Kyrene Middle School (KMS) and Kyrene de los Niños families received household essentials and gifts this holiday season. School Resource Officer Pete Walters, his wife Erica Swisher, KMS counselor Nicole Konrad and Niños counselor Kara Ashcraft, partnered with local retailers to brighten the holiday season for families in their community.

“My job at KMS is school security and safety but more importantly, I am responsible for developing a positive relationship between law enforcement and the students and families of KMS,” Officer Walters said. “This initiative was another way to bridge the gap and it is personally important to me that our students know that I, along with my brothers and sisters in law enforcement, are here to truly help, mentor, and guide them.”


Just before Thanksgiving, KMS and Niños staff collected information from families such as clothing sizes, ages, likes, wants and needs, which HomeGoods agreed to help supply. HomeGoods stores from several states each adopted a family to shop for. Over the next few weeks, the Walters and Swisher’s garage and kitchen were packed with boxes filled with gifts for the families.


Prior to delivery of the gifts, and with additional donations and support from her boss at HomeGoods, Erica was able to purchase Christmas wrapping materials, additional clothing, and gift cards for the families. Through a contact that Erica had at Sprouts, hams were also donated to the families for holiday dinners.


“Officer Pete and Erica are an amazing gift to our community and we each had a part in it to make the difference in the lives of our families,” Konrad said. “I couldn’t be more proud and thankful to work at The Kyrene Middle School where we truly change lives one student, one family at a time.”


Konrad’s son, a former Kyrene Kid and current Mountain Pointe High School student, helped move and deliver gifts to multiple families, including one family that was moving into their own apartment after living out of their car for a period.


“It was so impactful for him to see what school counselors and social workers do in the community,” Konrad said. “He took a moment to step back and reflect that some parents lost their jobs, and don’t know how they’re going to feed their kids let alone buy presents for them. He was also able to engage and play football with the kiddos while we snuck in all the gifts into their homes.”


Next year, Konrad hopes to support even more families in their community and make an even bigger impact for South Phoenix, Guadalupe and Tempe families.


Special thank you to Rhonda Murray, HomeGoods Region 8 Vice President, HomeGoods Region 8 – Southwest and Sprouts Farmers Market, AZ District Director Maribel Vega!