East Elves Grant Wishes of Hillandale 1st-Graders

High school student opens presents with 1st-grader

First-graders in Trini Fares’ class at Hillandale Elementary gasped Friday morning, as a band of Santa’s merry elves entered their classroom with gifts and hot cocoa. They’d had no idea their letters to Santa had already been received, and that their wishes would be granted by a group of local elves.

1st-graders gasp as Santa enters the room

Earlier in December, Fares’ students had written letters to Santa to celebrate the holiday season.

“It also helps them practice their writing and communication skills,” Fares said.

Unbeknownst to her students, Fares sent the letters to Mary Haskins’ class at East Henderson High, where her high school student “elves” each took a letter and shopped for their younger friends.

Haskins said that initially the gifts had a $5 limit, but her high school students were intent on addressing the needs – and not just the wants – of the elementary students. She explained that Fares had taught the 1st-graders a lesson about “needs vs. wants” back in August, which was reflected in each of the letters to Santa.

“(The letters) would say things like, ‘I want a doll but I really need a pair of pants,’” Haskins said.

So her high school students hit the mall.

Abby, a senior at East, said she enjoyed shopping for her 1st-grade buddy, Jesus, who had mentioned a new pair of shoes in his letter to Santa.

High school student helps 1st-grader make ornament

Abby found a pair of Sketchers that light up and some Star Wars socks to complement the kicks.

“I was so excited because I just wanted to see the look on his face,” she said.

On Friday, Abby was dressed as the elf Trixie Jinglesnap, and brought along a letter to Jesus from herself and Santa. When he asked how long it takes elves to make presents, Trixie said, “My presents are from Master Elves, and they make presents in 15 seconds.”

In addition to the hand-picked items from the elves, the 1st-graders received new coloring books from an East student dressed as Santa.

East Henderson senior Erin was touched at the generosity of her 1st-grade buddy, Lucas, when he decided to pass along his coloring book to someone else.

“When we gave him his coloring book, he said, ‘I’m going to give this to my sister. She loves coloring,’” Erin said. “I almost cried.”

Erin and Lucas, Abby and Jesus, and the other 17 pairs of elementary students elves also worked together on a holiday craft. They filled clear ornaments with brown paper, stuck on silly eyes and a nose, and crafted antlers out of pipe cleaners to create reindeer ornaments. The students also shared hot chocolate and cookies, and sang carols to the tune of a viola played by an East elf.

– By Molly McGowan Gorsuch
Public Information Officer

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