In the Pittsburg Community Schools, two out of every three students qualify for meal assistance, and the majority of those receive free lunch.

For their families, who work hard to make ends meet throughout the year, Christmas can be a time of extra stress.

For this reason, USD 250 has teamed up with a couple of area agencies to help its families have the opportunity to enjoy gifts this season through the Adopt A Dragon program.

"It helps buy gifts for kids in need," said USD 250 public relations director Zach Fletcher. "This is a team effort with the Salvation Army."

"We have a lot of charities call us asking us how to get involved and people wanting to give to our students," Fletcher said. "We can now tell those churches or other organizations they can buy an ornament."

The ornaments are dragons printed out on pieces of cardstock, each of which represents a child who will receive a Christmas present.

While this is a project the district has wanted to take on for a while, it is the product of a few factors coming together.

"I am on the Salvation Army advisory board," said Brian Biermann, assistant superintendent for USD 250.

He said Salvation Army and Wesley House traditionally work to help out with community needs during the Christmas season and the two entities served 1,200 families and children last year.

In the course of conversations, the Adopt A Dragon program was born and Biermann said he told Brown, "I think this may go with your idea to do something for the families."

Each adoption will be $25, which will be used to buy a child a gift, and Biermann said the hope is that 1,000 students will be sponsored this season.

Families wishing to have their children sponsored will need to sign up during business hours at either the Salvation Army or Wesley House between now and the end of next week (Nov. 22).

"Today started the sign-up for the families," Biermann said Monday. "They have to go to the Salvation Army or Wesley House."

These two organizations will be coordinating the gift-giving efforts, whereas USD 250 will be coordinating adoptions.

Businesses, households or individuals wishing to adopt dragons may do so at any of the district’s buildings or The Center, and may make checks out to Pittsburg Community Schools.