The students were participating in one of Centerville Junior High school's long-time traditions of filling in for Santa. This year, the students were purchasing Christmas presents for nine local families who needed a little extra help this holiday season. "We started bringing in money about two-and-a-half weeks ago for our Sub-for-Santa program," said Aaron Hogge, principal at CJH. "In that short amount of time, our school raised about $6,500. "It was a great experience all the way around," Hogge added. "It was a really fun process and not only for the students but for families and the community as a whole."
Hogge says that neighbors, teachers and parents pitched in, donating not just money, but other goods as well.
"We had people donate all kinds of usable things," Hogge said. "We got new items, like pots and pans and Christmas trees. People in the community stepped up to the plate and helped.
"And our teachers helped a lot, too," he continued. "Many teachers matched their students' contributions, some writing $200 checks."
And just when the fund raiser had ended, the school was shocked to receive even more support.
"When we thought we were done, more money and things came in," Hogge said. "Everybody's been really generous. We were even able to pick up another family."
While collecting goods and donating money was fun for all who participated, students agree that shopping for the families was even more fun. And Hogge says that it was also a time for the students to practice their spending and budgeting skills.
"The students were given a dollar amount and were given a list of things needed," Hogge said.
"They were able to look at their [the kids] needs and budget their money to make sure they could buy things."
Overall, Hogge says he thinks the school's tradition is here to stay, as it puts the whole school and neighborhood in a giving mood.
"Each year, this project shows the kids that Christmas isn't just about them," Hogge said. "It really helps everyone understand the true Christmas spirit."