Santa Claus is coming to town next week, but he made one stop a little early thanks to help from students at Hayes High School.
Jobs for America’s Graduates (JAG) instructor Mark Thomas reported this week that juniors and seniors in his class at Hayes raised hundreds of dollars to buy gifts for an entire family at Carlisle Elementary School. Thomas said the money came from JAG fundraisers, grants, and from funds the students donated themselves to the cause.
“We do have to do community service for the JAG program, and I think this is just a great community service project for the kids to help out a family in our community,” Thomas said. “We also adopted a family for Thanksgiving. It’s a selfless act to help someone out.”
Kyle Hartman, a senior in the class, said his classmates went shopping together for the family and wrapped up all the presents to be delivered this week.
“It’s a nice thing to do, to make someone’s Christmas,” Hartman said. “It’s nice giving back to the community. People think seniors are lame, but we’re giving back.”
Hartman added he’s looking forward to graduating next year, and that helping out this Christmas season is his way of giving back to the school community, which he’s been a part of since kindergarten.
“I’ve been raised here my entire life, so it’s cool to give back before I leave,” he said. “I enjoy it. I took off work for it. It’s cool doing something important, knowing you won’t get anything back for it.”
Fellow senior Chase Ostapuck said the charity event can be emotional if you know families who have struggled through the holidays.
“It’s a good feeling to make someone happy, especially during the holidays,” Ostapuck said. “It’s nice, making someone’s life a little better. I’ve seen people struggle. It’s a good feeling knowing you are helping someone who has been struggling. If you’ve seen it, you’ll definitely know how those people feel. It’s just a good thing to do.”
Thomas said the students were enthusiastic and driven during the project, and he is proud of them.
“It’s so meaningful that high school students are willing to do this,” Thomas said. “They are really engaged into it.”
Thomas said to his recollection, this is the 15th year for the project, and the class has no plans to discontinue it.
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.