Making the holiday brighter (WITH GALLERY)

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 24, 2022

South Point Christmas Project provides for 20 children

SOUTH POINT — For one Monday afternoon, the South Point Community Center was one of the most joyous places on earth.

Thanks to the South Point Christmas Project, 20 children — 10 from Burlington and 10 from South Point elementary schools, were thrilled as Santa arrived at the building and gave them items from their holiday wish lists.

Dexter, a Burlington Elementary School student, enjoys his new dinosaur that he received as part of the South Point Christmas Project party on Monday. (The Ironton Tribune | Heath Harrison)

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Each year, the group, comprised of seniors and juniors from South Point High School, raises funds to provide for children in need in the district. This is the 19th year for the project.

Kent Stewart, a history teacher for the high school, who has coordinated the effort with the students for the past 16 years, said about 30 from the Rho Kappa and Mu Theta honor groups, the school’s GSA group and members of the student council, took part.

The day started by taking the children out shopping for clothes, Araceli Navarro Ortin, an exchange student from Spain, said.

“We bought them coats, jackets, socks and sweaters — and things they wanted,” she said.

Later, she was helping one girl put on a pair of new shoes at the party.

She said she had not had an experience like the day in her home country.

“It’s an amazing opportunity to do something like this,” she said.

Following the shopping, the children were brought to the South Point Community Center for a party, where, first, they were served a lunch from Giovanni’s.

Then, Santa and Mrs. Claus arrived and, one by one, the students were called up to meet them, where they posed for a photo and were given a sack of wrapped presents to take back to their table and open with the high school student they were paired with.

The gifts were mostly toys, along with other items from the children’s wish lists.

Children, each paired up with a high school student who took them shopping, were treated to a lunch from Giovanni’s before presents were handed out at the South Point Christmas Project party on Monday. (Larry Rees | For The Ironton Tribune)

Tanner Runyon, a senior and the president of Ro Kappa at the school, said it was his second year with the project.

“It’s heartwarming, just getting to see the kids experience something like this,” he said.

Draedon Black, a senior, is also in his second year with the project.

He said the child he was paired with received a monster truck, a fidget toy among his gifts.

“It’s amazing,” he said. “There is nothing better than giving someone a good Christmas.”

Sam Gue, the district’s new superintendent, in his first year in the position, stopped by to see the project in action.

“It’s a great opportunity to help those in need and serve the community,” he said of the students’ work. “This is a big part of who we always want to be at South Point.”

Stewart said the effort is paid for through donations, including one from an anonymous donor, as well as help from faculty members Carrie Childers, Diedra Hughes, Gara Adkins and Vanessa Collins.

Kaci Laslo, a senior, said she had a particularly meaningful experience in her second year with the project.

She described the girl she was paired with as “anxious and hesitant” at first.

“But then she started opening up more,” she said. “I told her she could always talk to me and we ended the day with laughs and smiles.”