HOW DID ORD GET STARTED?
Before Ms. Holan was an attorney she was a teacher in Highland Park Independent School District, and each year when the holidays would roll around, Ms. Holan noticed that all the giving was focused on giving material things, and that is when the ‘aha!’ moment occurred. Why not teach the students what the true spirit of giving is?
Ms. Holan explained that although each class adopted a local boy and girl to sponsor for the holiday season, that the children that received these gifts were orphans, homeless, displaced, or indigent. It was a true teachable moment to be able to look at the students and say, “Yes, you have brought a wonderful remote control car to donate, but these kiddos do not have the ability to get batteries.” With this in mind, and a little help from a Chicken Soup for the Christmas Soul story, Ms. Holan explained that we are so blessed that we take a lot of things for granted…like the smell of shampoo; or even having your own shampoo. For these children her school was adopting, shampoo was a luxury. And then came the idea…that Christmas, Ms. Holan did not want her students to do a gift exchange nor did she want them to do a book exchange…she wanted them to do something that cost no one anything, except a few minutes.
Ms. Holan wrote a letter home asking parents to donate all the hotel soaps and shampoos they have collected throughout their travels, any spare holiday cards, and Ziploc bags. Ms. Holan had her class sort the hygiene products into bags and then the students wrote notes on the inside, wishing the recipients a good holiday and a Happy New Year. Thus, the tradition was born. The next year, Ms. Holan did the same project in her own classroom, but also in her daughter’s second grade classroom. That year over 9,000 bags of hygiene products were donated to the local homeless shelters, women’s shelters, and indigent. Ms. Holan and her daughter have done this project every year since. After becoming an attorney, Ms. Holan decided to turn the project into a registered Non-Profit, and Operation Rubber Duck was formed.