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National Honor Society continues tradition of helping youth

SOUTH POINT — The teen poked the toe of the white tennis shoe a younger boy was trying on.

“You think that fits,” he asked. “Stand up and walk on it.”

Once Michael Murphy, a junior at Fairland High, was satisfied he broke the good news.

“We’re done with your basics,’’ he told the youth. “We have shoes, jacket and pants. Now we can get something fun.”

It’s just another shopping trip at Wal-Mart by the members of the National Honor Society at Fairland High.

And it’s hard to tell who’s having the better time —- the buyers or the spenders.

For at least 10 years each December, the honor society members take students from the Fairland elementary grades whose families are going through economically tough times Christmas shopping. The outing may be for only a couple of hours one morning, but the benefits last through the New Year.

The ground rules are specific since there is a limited amount of money to spend.

Each youngster must first get a complete outfit: shirts, pants and shoes, even underwear and socks. Once those are picked out, tried on and decided upon, any money left over can go for any extras. That may be for a game, doll or a present for Mom and Dad.

“A lot will want an extra jacket or boots,” said Caroline Lovejoy-Toler, NHS faculty advisor. “We do encourage them to get a toy. But they can get presents for others, if they want.”

This year, the Fairland teens through community contributions had $143 to spend on each child. The money came from the Proctorville Woman’s Club, the Fairland PTO and the Fairland National Honor Society.

The Tuesday before last Thursday’s shopping trip, the teens were lined up at the Wal-Mart Supercenter in South Point getting individual gift cards to spend on one of their 25 young charges.

And while the little ones were having a good time picking out the magenta sweater or the sweatshirt with hood, their Fairland High counterparts were ever vigilant making sure they didn’t go over their individual allotments. That meant calculators or cell phones were prevalent.

But keeping a running tab wasn’t all the teens had to worry about.

“They have to get the right size and make sure it will fit long-term,” Lovejoy-Toler said.

This December’s was the first time Murphy joined the shopping trip.

“This has meaning behind it,” he said. “It’s powerful.”

While Alyssa Coronato, 17, Erica Hutchison, 18, both seniors, have been on the shopping trips before, they were glad to join this year’s excursion.

“It really benefits the kids,” Coronato said. “It’s fun for them.”

“It feels good knowing you helped someone else,” said Hutchison.