The Student News Site of Shawnee Mission Northwest


The Student News Site of Shawnee Mission Northwest


The Student News Site of Shawnee Mission Northwest


The Gift of Giving

Children from the Head Start program arrived Dec. 6 to receive holiday gifts

“I think we have a special visitor coming today,” Adopt-a-Tot co-chairman Carolina Mach said. “Any idea who that could be?”

The children’s eyes widened as they yelled, “Santa Claus!”

“Is Santa really coming here?” another child asked.

“Ho Ho Ho!”

The iconic red-jacketed, white-bearded man swept into the cafeteria. He walked around the room waving at the children sitting on the floor.

“Are you the real Santa?” some of the children wondered.

He introduced himself and the elf for the day, sophomore Nathan Jones.

Classes donate money and buy toys for preschool-aged children in the Head Start program each year as a part of the Adopt-A-Tot community service program. The families of most of these children would not be able to have a Christmas without this assistance.

The children arrive by bus around 9:40 a.m. and meet their Student Council (StuCo) pal for the day before going into the cafeteria to listen to the Chamber Choir sing a variety of holiday songs. Then the children had a chance to talk to Santa Claus and tell him what they wanted for Christmas.

“My tot this year just looked at me at one point and was like, ‘I don’t want to leave,’” Mach said. “She made me a picture with stickers and was like, ‘here you go.’ I didn’t ask for it, but it was just little stuff like that. That is what is so gratifying about this event, seeing the joy it brings to the little kids.”

Chen and Mach began preparations for the event in October. Unlike the previous years, the program was set up differently. Instead of putting a cap on the amount of money a class could raise, the goal was to reach $150-200 per class. Students and teachers followed a specific, generic wish list of preschool-appropriate books and toys, $25 gift cards to a grocery store, winter hats, mittens, etc.

According to Mach, a staff reduction at Head Start and the inequality between classes in the level of giving prompted the changes.

“Adopt-a-Tot could set up classes who could raise a thousand dollars and get these kids everything they could have ever wanted,” Mach said. “That caused problems within the families like ‘why didn’t Santa bring me what I got last year?’”

The procedural changes met mixed reviews. Some students thought it was understandable to have the limitations, while others did not like having a cap on how many gifts they could give.

“I honestly didn’t like the changes,” senior Jocelyn Barrios said. “Students give a lot to the children, and it gives them joy to be able to open many presents on Christmas. But, I also see where Head Start is coming from. I guess they should be fair to all the kids, but at the same time, some of them need more than others.”

In the past, about 32 classes have  participated. This year, 34 classes participated, helping more than 36 children.

“It is one of the best days of the whole year,” Dent said. “There really is not much else that compares to this and the feeling that you get.”


By: Sarah Egger and Haena Lee

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The Gift of Giving