By Lloyd Bruner
The Ruston High School Future Business Leaders of America selected Little Helpers Day Health Center as its community service project this year. They planned to perform grounds work, do minor repairs and obtain donations for supplies. When they saw the faces of the children at Little Helpers, it touched them deeply. They knew they could do more, so Operation Santa Claus became priority one – they would bring the holidays to the children. Santa Claus was coming to town.
The members worked quickly to obtain donations. They added an “admission fee” to attend their Leadership Retreat. FBLA members from Choudrant High, Ruston Junior High and I.A. Lewis attended and donated. A “Wish List” for the 19 children was made, and the members went shopping to fulfill those wishes. Project leader Matthew Daulton said, “Picking out Barbie dolls and baby toys was a challenge I never expected to enjoy.”
Monday before Christmas, Santa came to town with his two best elves. Each child who was able came to Santa. For those unable to come, Santa used his red “sleigh” to go to them.
Terry Frazier, LPN, said, “It was absolutely heartwarming to watch the excitement in all the children’s faces. Not just the excitement in the children that attend Little Helpers, but the FBLA students that volunteered their time. You could tell that everyone involved, whether they were giving or receiving were so happy and thrilled. It was definitely a blessing to all.”
Other staff also commented.
Reagan Pilgreen said, “It was nice and something for the kids to look forward to (seeing Santa).”
Heather King added, “It was amazing seeing all the gifts and the outpouring of love.”
Autumn Andrews, RN, said, “It was a blessing.”
The children were overjoyed about Santa making a special visit for them and did not hide their excitement.
Kevin Gipson, who dressed as Santa, said, “As I greeted each child, both those who I could hold and those who could not be held, I could feel their joy. Each child was special and had reactions that touched us all.”
Moriah Jackson, who dressed as an elf, added, “I really had a great time. It was very heartwarming watching the kids react to the presents.”
Jason Willis, who also dressed as an elf, said, “It was a lot of fun giving Christmas to those kids who maybe wouldn’t have been able to have an experience like that otherwise. It was absolutely worth it seeing their reactions.”
Adviser Jennifer Ham summed it up with, “Watching the children open their gifts and seeing how excited they were to get something special they had asked for, made all the preparation time truly worthwhile.”
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