Liberty elementary students get early visit from Santa
By Samantha Phillips
Santa Claus came a little early and brought gifts during his visit with kindergartners and preschoolers at the E.J. Blott Elementary School.
Kindergartner Nolan Sefcik hopped off Santa’s lap Wednesday and ran to a table, eager to see what he got.
Nolan squealed when he ripped off the wrapping paper and realized the gift was a new Hot Wheels set. “I love Hot Wheels!” he yelled. “They can do all kinds of tricks. It’s really awesome.”
That type of reaction is what keeps the Giving Tree program going at Liberty schools.
Danielle Songer, a high-school health teacher, has coordinated the program since it started five years ago. High-school students take a tag off a tree with the name of a kindergartner and preschooler and buy them a toy they desired. Every child in those grades gets a gift.
Students in the school’s Liberty Leadership Club handle collecting donations and directing children to Santa, along with helping them open their gifts. This was the first year that Songer’s leadership class got involved with the program, too.
Songer said 110 students were given gifts this year.
“It’s one of the most exciting events we do with the elementary and high-school students,” Songer said. “It brings kids so much joy, and it teaches high-school students that it feels good to give back.”
Shon Haydee, a senior in the leadership class, said it feels heartwarming to be a part of the program. “It feels good to make a difference,” he said.
Joe Rossi, also a senior in the leadership class, said it was exciting to watch the young children’s faces light up when they walked in the cafeteria and saw Santa.
“It’s magical,” he said. “Some of these kids don’t get a Christmas, so it’s nice to see them happy when they get their present.”
This year, Rossi said, the group also collected donations for a kindergartner’s family who lost their home in a recent fire.