Giving Back: Eureka Springs students wrap gifts for Angel Tree recipients
At Eureka Springs High School, giving back is a big deal. That’s certainly true during the holiday season, with National Honor Society students wrapping gifts for Angel Tree recipients before Christmas break.
High school guidance counselor Rachal Hyatt said the Angel Trees were set up at several different businesses in town, saying members of the community have been buying gifts for students in need and dropping them off at the high school over the past month. This year, Hyatt said, 156 students benefit from the Angel Tree.
“They’re all local kids,” Hyatt said. “This is the most kids we’ve ever had. It seems like it goes up each year.”
Senior Brittney Halper recalled working as an office aide and said she’s seen community members bring the gifts in. That makes it even more special, Halper said, when she wraps the presents.
“I see how happy they are that we’ll wrap the gifts for them,” Halper said. “It’s been going really good. It’s just really great to help out the community.”
Senior Faith Martin said the students are staying on top of it, even with an influx of gifts over the past few days.
“It’s great to see all the kids in need who are getting gifts from the community,” Martin said.
Senior Elizabeth Loudermilk agreed.
“We’ve received a lot of community support, and it’s been keeping us busy,” Loudermilk said.
Many of the students have been wrapping gifts for the Angel Tree recipients for years, including seniors Brandon Ray, Gabi Bloch and Jordon Henley. It’s always hectic this time of year, Henley said.
“With all the classwork, it’s hard to find time, but we make time,” Henley said.
One year, Henley said, she got to take the wrapped presents to parents. She said she’ll never forget seeing how happy the families were to receive the gifts.
“It was really impactful and emotional,” Henley said. “They were so thankful for people in the community to give to them.”
None of this would be possible, Ray said, without the help of the community.
“I’d like to thank them for all their help, and I’m sure the families appreciate it,” Ray said. “Without them, they wouldn’t be able to provide such a good Christmas for their kids.”
“It’s awesome seeing all these presents that go out to little kids,” Bloch said.
“We have 50 families this year, and some families have up to six kids in them,” Henley said. “We know the impact this has on our community.”
With the help of the community, Hyatt said, anything is possible.
“We certainly couldn’t do it without them. The community is involved every year,” Hyatt said. “We’ve never had a kid that’s not served. Our high school kids are always involved, and it’s a full-circle experience that the kids get to see how many students in our own community are in need.”
It’s been mind-opening, Halper said, to help her fellow students.
“It’s great that we can be part of the community and have such an impact on people we see around school and know we’re a little part of their lives,” Halper said.
“It’s good to think about giving someone else something they maybe haven’t had before,” Loudermilk said. “A good Christmas is something we take for granted a lot of times, so it’s nice to give that back.”
Hyatt said she’s proud of all the students involved in getting the gifts to families who need them.
“They’re just great overall. There’s 26 kids that are involved, and every year in November, they’re like, ‘When do we get to start? When do we get to start?’ ” Hyatt said. “They’re very eager to do it. They’re just good-hearted kids.”