January 18, 2024

Adopting Angels

Adopting Angels-Adopting Angels-angel tree blog
Adopting Angels
Adopting Angels to make a difference in the local community.

This year, once again, The British International School of Houston supported The Salvation Army Angel Tree program. High School seniors partnered with the program to provide Christmas gifts for 120 underserved families in the Houston area with their wish list of presents to open this holiday season.


Every child deserves to experience the joy of Christmas morning. The Salvation Army Angel Tree program helps provide Christmas gifts for hundreds of thousands of children around the country each year. Once a child or senior adult has been registered and accepted as an Angel their Christmas wish list is shared with donors in our community who purchase gifts of new clothing and toys. The gifts are distributed to the family to place under their family Christmas tree. We anticipate this raised over $12K for local families.


This is part of their CAS project – community, action and service. Creativity, Action and Service (CAS) sits at the heart of the IB and helps our students understand how they can change the world for the better.


Learn more from one of the project leads, Year 12 Ivana here:


The goal of the Angel Tree CAS project was to encourage BISH students to donate gifts by adopting an angel found at reception so families in Houston who are under the poverty line have the chance to receive items from their Wishlist. Our goal was to also wrap all the gifts successfully before the 12thof December when the Salvation Army arrived and picked up all the donations from them to be sent out.

As this is a large project requiring a lot of planning, our group started planning a month before to ensure we achieved everything we planned to do. The first 2 weeks involved meeting and planning with Mhairi and Eloise to agree on our plans. To do this, we assigned each other roles based on our skills and what we were most comfortable with. I was responsible for making the poster that was going to be posted around the school so students/parents walking by would be able to learn about the Angel Tree and the opportunity they had. Since Mhairi is part of the scholar's programme, she was responsible for speaking with some other scholars and getting them to participate while ensuring we had a slot to speak during assembly. Eloise was responsible for planning any meetings with members of staff we had to speak to carry out this project. Finally, together as a team, we planned out how we wanted to divide our time to start wrapping all the gifts.

I decided to take on the role of making the poster as I previously had a lot of experience because of my Hispanic Heritage Month experience I had previously done which involved making posters to be put up around the school. I gained a lot of knowledge from this experience which made the process a lot easier as I focused on making it engage and including only vital information that would be useful for those who saw it. When I was finished with the poster, I presented it to my group and we were all very pleased with the result, therefore, we sent it to Mrs. Turner on the 28thof November who gladly wanted to digitally display it around the school. As a group, we also had the opportunity to appear on the school's Instagram that same day to further promote the Angel Tree programme which helped to raise awareness.

On the 29thof November, after securing a spot to talk during assembly, as a group we encouraged secondary students to adopt an Angel from the tree by reading off one of the tags that was still in the tree to demonstrate the significance of donating. Personally, speaking in front of secondary students is not always easy, however, as I had previously taken part in the UNICEF assembly for primary kids, I took the knowledge learned and applied it when I was speaking to the secondary students. This was useful as my nerves calmed down and I was able to confidently put my point across.

On the 30thof  November, we spoke with Ms. Chastant to determine the logistics of wrapping gifts for the Angel Tree as donations were quickly piling up and as a group, we wanted to start soon. This meeting was very useful as we learnt how to properly wrap the gifts according to the rules that the Salvation Army had put in place that were key to follow. We also determined how we were going to divide the tags which lacked any donations by concluding that using an Excel spreadsheet was the best way to stay organized.

Therefore, on the 5thof December, after all the tags were taken from the Angel Tree and had previously decided as a group our responsibilities to come in during our free time, we started to wrap all the gifts and began to organize everything in an Excel spreadsheet. This was very successful as I allowed us to quickly identify tags that had missing gifts that we could then purchase and finalize wrapping the donation. Doing this also allowed us to make sure all the angel tree tags had been wrapped and were ready to be sent out. What made this process easier was the help of some of the scholars who volunteered to help wrap gifts and other students who were also interested in helping.

Nevertheless, after spending some days wrapping the gifts, we came to realize that we had a problem. Something that we didn’t consider was coming into an agreement with everyone to determine how we would separate the tags that had everything and the tags that had missing things. In the Excel spreadsheet, this is easy to manage, however, in person, it wasn’t. As we had made a lot of progress and we were almost done wrapping everything, as a team with Eloise, Mhairi and I, we had trouble finding the tags that were unfinished as some were misplaced due to lack of communication with some of the scholars. Our team had determined to not wrap any tags that had missing things, however, some of the scholars determined to wrap them but not fully close them with the zip tie. Due to this lack of communication, it was difficult to determine which tags were done and which tags weren’t. But with perseverance, we overcame this obstacle and began properly separating the gifts to have a more organized system. This was challenging as we had to find each angel tree tag and separate them accordingly, but we knew that getting this done was crucial. In the end, we managed to find every tag and make a better system in which we were able to properly separate everything.

Additionally, while wrapping the donations there were ethical aspects we had to consider as we were responsible for determining if the donations were up to standard or not. To overcome this and make sure every donation was appropriate, we often discussed as a group to determine if we believed a tag lacked donations. Doing this was useful as having different opinions allowed us to make the decision, we thought was right and appropriate.

On the 12thof December, we finalized wrapping all the donations as Ms Chastant purchased the missing gifts from the tags. Being able to see everything wrapped made my group very proud as we had put a lot of hard work and dedication into this project. Finally, the Salvation Army arrived to pick up all the donations and we helped carry some of the carts to make the process easier.

In conclusion, this project was very successful as we managed to reach our goal of encouraging students/parents to adopt an angel from the tree and successfully wrapping all the gifts. We achieved this by speaking during the secondary assembly and getting in touch with members of staff who helped us with this project. What was challenging was wrapping all the gifts as it took a lot of time and dedication to get everything organized and ready for the Salvation Army. Additionally, even though as a group we appreciated the help we got from other students who wrapped some gifts, the lack of communication between groups made it difficult for us to stay organized and make sure all the tags were ready. However, having a lot of determination towards his project we were able to overcome this obstacle, and, in the end, we were very proud of ourselves as we managed to get everything ready. If I could do things differently, I would establish a system for everyone to follow to properly organize all the gifts. By doing this, we could've avoided the trouble of finding every tag and separating them accordingly. Nonetheless, we as a group achieved everything we had planned out as we effectively worked as a team.


Watch their progress here and read the news here!