Angel Tree Project supports students in need
Posted on 11/21/2022
Mondays with Maria Cover Image



Dr. Maria Vazquez: Hello, I'm Maria Vasquez, Superintendent of Orange County Public Schools, and this is Mondays with Maria.

Nancy Alvarez: Hi everybody, I'm Nancy Alvarez.

Dr. Maria Vazquez: It's Thanksgiving week, a time of reflection, a time with family and friends, a time when we give thanks. So Nancy, what are you thankful for professionally and personally?

Nancy Alvarez: I'm supposed to be asking you the questions, but okay, I'll go. So personally, obviously I'm thankful for my family and our health because at the end of the day that's all that matters. This time last year I was just getting over a battle with breast cancer and so I'm doing great and that is just something obviously to be so thankful for. And then professionally, this. I'm sitting here with you and I get to talk to you every week and report on all these wonderful things that are happening in our school district. And it's extra special for me because my kids go to Orange County Public Schools. So it just makes it a lot of fun. So your turn, what are you thankful for Dr. Vazquez?

Dr. Maria Vazquez: So, I personally, I am so thankful for my family. My husband, my three children, my three grandchildren, they are what fill my soul and I'm also very thankful for my health. You know, sometimes it just takes one small health crisis to make you realize how important it is that we feel healthy and professionally. You know, being superintendent of Orange County Public Schools is just such an honor, and I'm so thankful that I'm having this opportunity not only to fill that role, but the incredible people that I work with -- our school board, my team, our teachers, and our staff. So I am so thankful that I have the opportunity to serve in this role.

Nancy Alvarez: So let's talk traditions. Do you have any Thanksgiving traditions in your family or with friends that you would like to share?

Dr. Maria Vazquez: So, Thanksgiving is one of our favorite holidays and food of course is a huge part of it, and we mix it up a little bit. So we have the traditional turkey. My husband is the only one that's allowed to made the Turkey <laugh>. And then we have white rice, black beans, yuca; we have sweet potatoes, we have green beans, we have a salad. And then our famous Fernandez Flan. It's a secret family recipe and it's just wonderful. Everybody gets together and a time of fellowship and being able to enjoy one another when that's not something that we can do on a regular basis.

Nancy Alvarez: Well, if I have to share my tradition, we should rename this like Cuban Mondays with Maria because just like your family, because you guys are Cuban, we also do turkey with black beans and rice and yuca and flan. And we might as well just get together and have one big Cuban Thanksgiving. I think that would be great. That would be fun. Yes.

Dr. Maria Vazquez: Oh my goodness. Well, thank you all for watching. So many families have so much to be thankful for, but I know there are some that may be struggling right now. In Orange County Public Schools, we have an annual tradition. It's a giving campaign called the Angel Tree Project. It helps provide gifts for our students in need. OCPS social workers collect gifts and donations for our most vulnerable students. We have an angel tree with tags, which grants a wish for a student. Employees and the public can also give through the text to give option by texting OCPS Angel to 41444. We hope you will consider giving.

Thank you so much for all that you do for our Orange County Public Schools. I hope you and your family have a happy and healthy holiday season

Nancy Alvarez: Feliz dia de accion de gracias. Happy Thanksgiving

Dr. Maria Vazquez: Happy Thanksgiving.