By Kathleen Stanfill Freelance writer | Jacksonville Daily Progress The Jacksonville Daily Progress
Tue Dec 07, 2010, 07:33 PM CST
The Glenda Jean Mostyn & Joe E. Moreno Foundation Annual Christmas Lights Program brought an early Christmas to students enrolled in JISD’s program for special needs children.
An annual gift from the Foundation, the students are treated to a $50 shopping spree and traditional lunch with family, staff and teachers invited to attend. Last Thursday, school buses lined Austin and Commerce Streets as children were shuttled, along with aides and teachers, from their Wal-Mart shopping experience to the Norman Activity Center luncheon and a special visit from Santa.
There to greet them was Jackie Zigtema, whose brother, Steve Mostyn and his wife, Amber endow the Mostyn Moreno Foundation through their law practice. The Foundation provides the monetary resources for the all of the day’s activities.
Inspired by his mother’s service to special needs students at the St. Louis School in Tyler, Mostyn was moved to do something extraordinary for these students at Christmas each year.
His sister, Jackie, was Director of the JISD Special Education Program at the time so Mostyn decided to make Jacksonville the first school to benefit from the Foundation’s Holiday Lights Program ten years ago. “From there, it just grew,” said Zigtema. “He added the St. Louis School next, followed by schools in Henderson, Whitehouse and Athens. “Our mother died in 1996 and because she loved her job as an aide to these students, Steve and his wife Amber were inspired to do this.”
Zigtema, now Director of Special Education Services at the Henderson School District, attended Thursday’s festivities, which served more than 85 students, their families, aides and teachers.
Area-wide, more than 330 students benefit from the Mostyn’s generosity. “Each child is given a $50 Wal-Mart Gift Card to spend as they wish,” Zigtema explained. “Some buy for themselves, some for others.”
Derrick Whitaker, a 16-year-old JHS Student, used his gift card for needed items such as socks and jeans but did buy a game as well.
His friend, Marquis Shelton, who is 17, bought a Christmas tree for his family. He was also able to buy a coloring book for his cousins.
Having recently “borrowed” a crucifix pendant and necklace from his mother, Shelton also bought a chain. “I didn’t have enough money for the cross though,” Shelton commented. “I wanted to give hers back to her.” When asked what the cross meant to him, Shelton’s response was “love and care”.
The Foundation’s website is www.MostynMoreno.org.