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Santa brings an Amazon Fire tablet to every student at West Side School, thanks to CPS partnership with Amazon


CBS News

Thursday, December 8, 2022

CHICAGO — Students at Roswell B. Mason Math & Science Academy in Lawndale got a visit from Santa Claus bearing gifts Thursday morning.

CBS 2’s Joe Donlon joined Old St. Nick at the school, at 4217 W. 18th St.

At Mason, it was a holiday party that turned into a dance party – or a “jingle ball.” Amazon partnered with the Chicago Public Schools to give each student something to call their own. And the smiles we saw said it all.

Of course, a jingle ball isn’t complete without the big guy himself. Santa made a grand entrance – to the delight of the Mason Elementary student body.

Some of the kids estimated some of Santa’s vital statistics. How much does he weigh? How old might he be? How many cookies does he consume on Christmas Eve night?

The answers to those questions are mysteries for which we can only make educated guesses.

Whatever the case, Santa’s stop Thursday was at Mason Elementary – and he had a heavy load. He arrived with more than 200 Amazon Fire tablets – one for every Mason student. They are not to share – each student gets to take home a tablet and keep it.

“I hope, and I think many of us know, that these are going to be the future leaders of Chicago,” said Amazon Chicago Head of Community Affairs Sarah Glavin. “So if we can give them the right tools early on, we know the thing they continue to create are going to be incredible for this city.”

Chicago Public Schools Chief Executive Officer Pedro Martinez said events where schools can offer all the students a gift are very important.

“We know that if you go around the neighborhood of North Lawndale – high poverty, families that are struggling – we don’t know that every one of these children will get gifts for Christmas,” Martinez said. “But to have this kind of event where everybody gets a gift, it’s priceless.”

Donlon asked Mason student Jontel Craig what he thought when he got the Amazon Fire tablet.

“I thought, I’m like, dang! They really care about me,” he said. “I must be that important.”

That was exactly the message everyone involved in an event like this loved to hear. It was enough to make everyone dance, which was what the kids did next.

“It’s things that we cannot provide as a school. We can’t give it to them,” said Mason principal Tonya Tolbert, “and so when someone else comes in and partners with us to give them something, it’s awesome.”

Ensuring the welfare of children and families is part of every school’s mission, Tolbert emphasized.

“Once they walk through the doors, we make sure that we wrap around anything they need – family, the child themselves – you know, however, we can help,” Tolbert said, “because that’s what schools are for.”

Children First Fund is the foundation for CPS. They organized the event Thursday at Mason.

The fund is always looking for partners to step in like Amazon did in this case. Contact the Children First Fund if you’d like to help.

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