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Students collect, wrap, deliver gifts to needy

Extending holiday cheer a priority for Forest Hills Lutheran School


Photo Credit: COURTESY PHOTOS - Third-grader Tori Ratliff enjoys wrapping holiday gifts for families adopted by Forest Hills Lutheran School in Cornelius.Linda Hirsch’s third-grade classroom was a particularly busy place the last couple weeks as her students at Forest Hills Lutheran School in Cornelius rounded up holiday gifts for needy folks in western Washington County.

Abby Brown, one of Hirsch’s pupils at the private Christian school, put a biblical spin on her participation.

“This reminds us of when Jesus was born to be our gift,” Abby said. “I think [it’s] special because we can give to families that are in need — we can help them.

“My favorite part of this project is [that] we get to choose the gift we are going to give and bring in extra gifts for the children.”

Her classmate, Amelia Nichols, worried about families who “may be homeless or not have money to buy their kids gifts” at holiday time.

“We can make sure every child in our adopted families has gifts to open on Christmas,” she said.

All that yuletide love will branch out to the community this month, according to FHLS officials.

“Each classroom has adopted a Christmas family,” said Audrea Lotman, the school’s director of admissions. Students wrapped the gifts and everything was loaded up for delivery to the Hillsboro Resource Center last Wednesday morning, Dec. 17. Families arrived later in the day to pick up the presents.

Hirsch, who coordinated the school-wide project, said it was all done anonymously.

“Four years ago the students and staff decided to adopt families in need rather than exchange gifts among ourselves,” she said. “The idea came out of a staff conversation about how important it is to let children experience the joy of giving.”

The third-grade provided 40 gifts for a family of five, according to Hirsch. “Each child in that family [received] 12 gifts, and there were four family gifts,” she added.

Every FHLS grade level participated, from kindergarten to eighth-grade. FHLS fifth-graders pause in a hallway with their class-sponsored holiday packages.

Another student of Hirsch’s, Kaitlyn Lewis, liked the anonymity of the gift-giving activity.

“My favorite part of this project is being able to be part of someone else’s Christmas without them knowing,” the third-grader said. “We are giving to a family that may be homeless or not have money to exchange gifts.

“This way they can get gifts and use the money they have to buy the things they need to live.”

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