Boxes of food and bag of gifts lined the sidewalk at Burnet Elementary in Dallas Tuesday, ready for parents to pick them up for Christmas.
"What you are seeing here," educator Eric Hale said, "I call it my community of care."
For the second year in a row Hale, who is the 2021 Texas Teacher of the Year, reached out to that community to collect donations so he could give his 25 students a happier holiday, with bags overflowing with gifts, and boxes of food donated by Sam's Club.
"To be a child who had to receive, and to be an adult who is blessed enough to have a community of care around him that allows me to be the one giving and blessing, is one of the greatest things a person can do," Hale said. "Anything I can do to help these children. My kids need more, so I attempt to do more."
Hale greeted parents at the school's driveway.
"Hey, Brian's mom," Hale said waving and smiling. "I love you, son," Hale said 'blowing up' a knuckles greeting.
"It hits my heart really hard," parent Davana Nickerson said. "Because the last couple of years we've been struggling a little bit, and they haven't been able to get the gifts they wanted."
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Hale knows the feeling. He was once like the students he educates.
"I've had a lot of help in my life," Hale said. "And to be able to come back full circle is, like, the most rewarding thing I can do in my career."
Hale said hopes he is also teaching his students how to give back when they're older.
"I'm educating the heart, the mind, the soul of the child," Hale said. "And so my calling is different."
This is the second year Hale has collected donations to get gifts for his class. He had enough extra to give gift certificates to the Burnet Elementary School support staff.
Hale said this year was bigger and better than last year, and he hopes to top himself next year.
"I hope they feel loved," Hale said.