MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

December 18, 2012

Warner teens make Christmas for others

By Cathy Spaulding
Phoenix Staff Writer

— WARNER — A storm shelter and hallway at Warner High School has turned into Santa’s Workshop as students sort clothing and wrap toys.

Warner students in seventh through 12th grade are wrapping scores of toys, dolls and books to give to elementary students this week. They also collected clothing to give to needy families.

Warner High Principal Jeremy Jackson said juniors and seniors in the school’s leadership program were discussing ways to increase student involvement.

“They were talking about how to get it started, and the kids took it from there,” he said.

School counselor Misty Durrett said students talked about toys they used to play with and that other kids could benefit from. They started collecting toys and clothes they had.

“The first day, 17 students brought in bags of stuff, lining the halls,” Durrett said, adding that donations included an air hockey game, a drum set and laptop computers.

“It just spread through the entire community,” she said. “It went from 17 students to 20-something the next day. We’re making certain every student has a part in this project.”

The school’s original goal was to ensure that every student from pre-kindergarten through second grade gets a wrapped toy, Durrett said.

“But we have so many toys now, it can be every child through the fourth grade, maybe even the sixth grade.”

Warner junior Erika Vinson said she’s happy to help wrap and give toys.

“I tutor at the elementary, and I can tell that many children aren’t going to get a gift or many gifts to open,” Erika said. “This will help them get to open one and see the joy on their faces.”

Jackson said the elementary students are to receive and open the gifts Wednesday.

“I want to see my kids see the joy of the elementary kids getting to open something in front of their peers,” he said. “I think there will be a lot of people in tears.”

Donated clothing and wrapping paper fills the school’s storm shelter. Students and community volunteers are folding and sorting the clothes according to size.

Senior Maxwell McBride said he and the student council president visited area businesses to seek donations.

“I just think it’s good for kids to have what I had as a kid,” he said. “My parents always supported me, and it makes me feel good to be doing this.”

Toys, books and stuffed animals line a hallway in one wing, where students sit on the floor to wrap the presents. They tried their skill at wrapping dolls, balls and infant toys with no boxes.

Nathaniel French worried that he wouldn’t have enough wrapping paper, but he managed to find a matching scrap to fill a gap.

Durrett said students also are focusing on needy families to distribute clothing.

“Mr. Jackson said we have nine families for sure,” she said. “We just started asking for those on Friday.”

Jackson said any clothes left over would be donated to a local clothes closet or to Women in Safe Home, a women’s shelter.

Reach Cathy Spaulding at (918) 684-2928 or cspaulding@muskogeephoenix.com.