PLEASANTVILLE — William and Elaine Hawkes adopted more than 4,000 children during this holiday season.
They don’t live with them, but they’re no less part of Hawkes family because the owners of WEHA 88.7 and 100.3 gospel radio station and Hawkes Janitorial Service bought Christmas gifts for each elementary student in all four of the Pleasantville public schools.
“The importance of it is basically trying to show the kids positivity and love,” said Elaine Hawkes. “It’s not really about giving to the less fortunate, it’s really about showing positivity and love.”
William Hawkes agreed.
“It’s a positive thing for us to be able to come before the elementary students and we know we’re achieving it by the smiles on their faces,” William Hawkes said. “They give more to us than we give to them.”
The Hawkes brought toys to Washington Avenue and South Main Street schools on Tuesday Dec. 19. They visited Leeds Avenue and North Main Street schools on Wednesday Dec. 20.
Mayor Judy Ward said she was excited to see corporate community partners take such an interest in the youth. “It’s just unbelievable,” said Ward. “You should have seen the kids. They were in their world.”
Hawkes said being a good corporate citizen has always been part of his commitment to the community.
“When we moved to Pleasantville, we made it clear that we wanted to be good community partners, especially being a Black owned business,” William Hawkes said.
“It makes me feel excellent,” Ward said. “He’s doing it to see the smile on their faces. There are so many other things that he could be doing. But he’s doing it in the spirit of giving.”
The story began more than a decade ago when Elaine Hawkes and another educator, Kia Allen, adopted a classroom at North Main Street School for Christmas. The next year, the Hawkes adopted the whole school. Through the years, it has grown.
“Now it’s morphed into all four elementary schools,” Ward said. “This may be the only gift that some of those children get.”
Elaine Hawkes said she also invites her extended family to help give because they want to establish a long-lasting tradition. William Hawkes said several community members dropped off gifts and people donated through cash app and gift cards.
“We had a lot of community partners who just wanted to be a blessing,” William Hawkes said.
William Hawkes said that in years past they did most of it without help. But this year they received additional support from:
- Mayor Judy Ward and the Pleasantville City Hall
- Gary’s Restaurant
- Evangelical Fellowship Church
- One Stop Career Center
- Mt. Pleasant Baptist Church
- Mt. Zion Baptist Church
- New Mount Calvary Baptist Church
- Hamilton & Black associates
- New Life in Christ Ministries; and
- The Embassy
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