Symmes Valley #039;angels#039; make sure some Christmas wishes come true

Published 12:00 am Monday, December 15, 2003

WILLOW WOOD - Even though she is now in high school, Carrie Copley remembers the Christmas when she unwrapped a Barbie house.

"I was just a happy little kid," she said.

Realizing that many local children may have nothing to unwrap this Christmas morning, the 30 members of the Symmes Valley High School Beta Club set up an Angel Tree in the school's hallway. This tree had the names of 90 children, whose names were given to the school by the Lawrence County Department of Job and Family Services. These names were chosen out of 200 applications.

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A child's Christmas wish list accompanied the name, and whomever plucked that name purchased the gifts the child wanted. The result was a flood of bags into the Symmes Valley High School cafeteria taken away to eventually land in the hands of several "happy little kids."

Club adviser Ken Shipley was extremely pleased with not only the work the students had done, but also the lessons he hoped they had learned in this project.

"As the Christmas season approaches, the spirit of giving, caring and sharing is alive and well at Symmes Valley High School and the community," he said. "There's no question. These kids are special. They started this project and carried it through. This will give them a sense of responsibility, good character and concern for their fellow man."

For many of the students, this was their first major community service project.

"This took a lot of time, dedication and work," said Cassie Myers, club secretary.

Nevertheless, most of them gave credit to the parents, staff and community members who took the angels and bought the gifts. The students were even more surprised at the generosity of the buyers. Some children will receive CD players, Play Station games and bicycles along with coats and gloves to keep warm in the winter. All children in one particular family will receive bicycles, Myers said.

"We've had double of what we had last year," said Kyle Gilmore, club vice president. "The community gave their time and money."

Seeing how much need existed in Lawrence County made the students appreciate their childhood Christmases and what they have now.

"A lot of them just asked for things like Play Doh," Copley said.

"Don't get me wrong, the gifts were nice too," said Travis Dingess, club president. "I'm more happy being with my family than getting the gifts."

"This shows people would rather give than receive," said club member Leslie Floyd.

Myers, a senior, will not be a part of the Beta Club next year, but she still wants to be a part of next year's project.

"I'm coming back for an angel next year," Myers said.