Program sends special needs students on Christmas shopping spree - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Program sends special needs students on Christmas shopping spree

By Jamey Boyum

SMITH COUNTY, TX (KLTV) - The Mostyn Moreno Foundation has been funding a Christmas shopping spree for hundreds of special education students for over a decade.

The Christmas Lights Program gives each child a $50 allowance they can spend any way they wish.

They get the chance to make their own decisions, and learn more about responsibility.

These kids have been looking forward to this all year. Some of them buy gifts for others, and some of them just buy whatever they want. Either way, they love it.

Monte Osburn of the Mostyn Moreno Foundation says, "They're accompanied by their teachers, and some with their parents, so they can practice the life skills that they're taught in the classroom."

And they do it for 11 school districts across Texas, treating 864 kids to a holiday shopping spree. That's up from 330 students last year. These are Tyler Independent School district kids.

"The kids get excited," says Jackie Zigtema, "The teachers prepare them by coming up with shopping lists, so they're already researched it, and figured out how much things cost, and how it fits into their budget. It's just a wonderful experience."

Zigtema is the Director of Special Education for Henderson ISD, and is a member of the foundation.

"Kids, staff parents, everybody that gets to be involved. It is an exceptional day for everybody," Zigtema expressed, "As the kids come in the smiles on their faces, they know what's happening. It's a very neat event that a lot of these kids never get to experience."

The Mostyn Moreno Foundation and educators share the belief that these kids benefit from interacting with other community members, and getting a taste of what their life will be like after school is over.

The Mostyn Moreno Foundation was created in memory of Glenda Jean Mostyn who taught special education in Tyler for many years, and Joe Moreno, a Texas State Representative who died in a car accident in 2005.

Steve Mostyn and his wife Amber fund the foundation through their law practice.

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