Pine Bluff School District students receive assistance thanks to generous donors giving money to the Commercial’s Christmas Card Fund.

The newspaper has sponsored the annual fund, which allows donors to make contributions, for the past 30 years. The newspaper collects the money and distributes it among the Dollarway, Pine Bluff, Watson Chapel and White Hall school districts based on student enrollment. No money is kept for administrative reasons.

A total of $6,707 had been given this year through Friday afternoon.

Alfred Carroll is director of the elementary alternative learning environment in the Pine Bluff School District. Carroll has worked for the district for 38 years and remembers when the district enrolled 10,000 students.

“Over the years I have seen so many instances where we found kids in need and the Pine Bluff Commercial Christmas Card Fund came through,” Carroll said. “The social workers used the fund to make a difference in the kids’ lives.”

Children come to school hungry and cannot learn and they are fed through money given to the fund, made comfortable and then they perform more effectively in school, Carroll said. They also receive eyeglasses and clothes.

“I truly believe in the program,” Carroll said. “I was thinking about taking a pie in the face to help the fund. I will do that next year. It is worthy of doing whatever we can to help our students. If there is an extension of the deadline until January, I will do it this year. Come see an old man get pied in the face.”

The Pine Bluff School District currently enrolls about 3,720 students. Even with the decline in enrollment, Carroll said many students need assistance.

“We’ve seen the fund since its inception and thought it was great then and it’s great now,” Carroll said. “The schools provide meals and other assistance. Our kids need so many things. It is awesome to have the Christmas Card Fund available in our community.”

The deadline to give money is Monday, Dec. 18, for donors who want to make contributions and have their names listed on the Community Christmas Card. Donations should be made to the Christmas Card Fund, care of the Pine Bluff Commercial, P.O. Box 6469, Pine Bluff, AR, 71611. Donations may also be hand-delivered to The Commercial at 300 S. Beech St. between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. weekdays.