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C-K Elementary Secret Santa program provides for record number of students

December 26, 2018

CEREDO — The Ceredo-Kenova Elementary School Secret Santa program — a tradition nearly two decades old — saw record numbers this year, having supplied gifts for nearly 200 area students.

The program begins with Ceredo-Kenova Elementary school students, but if there are siblings, older or younger, in other schools, each child in the family gets gifts bought for them through the program.

This year, the Secret Santa program was able to provide a record number of gifts for 191 local children. Patti Rollins, event coordinator, said the total number of names on the list increased by more than 30 this year.

“It’s always a growing need. Folks need help. We have a lot of community businesses and leaders who will donate or will take children and go do the shopping for us,” Rollins said.

Rollins said the feat wouldn’t have been possible without the sponsors and community partners. Having been well established in the community, she said even some former C-K area residents are faithful about making donations even though they have moved out of the area.

“We have an unusual circumstance really, because of where we live. A lot of folks who have lived in the surrounding area went to school here but moved away and will still send back a donation to help out with the program,” Rollins said. “I think it speaks a lot to what our community is like in Wayne County and especially here in Ceredo and Kenova.”

As each family walked in the Gathering Place at Kenova United Methodist Church to pick up bags full of gifts, the response was one of overwhelming gratitude and thankfulness.

“They are all so thankful that somebody will make sure their child has something for Christmas,” Rollins said. “Nobody expects you to do this kind of thing for their kids. They really appreciate it. A lot of our families are working. It’s not that they aren’t trying, but you can’t raise a family on minimum wage.”

The impact reaches far beyond the children receiving the gifts. Rollins said it’s often emotional for the families and even the coordinators who dedicate time and money to the event each year. Rollins’ effort, along with co-coordinator Donna Akers, is one that is thought highly of throughout the community, though they don’t do it for the recognition.

“What they are doing is awesome. They work so hard for so many people that are out there in need, some that we probably don’t even know about,” Kenova resident Crystal Carroll said. “They go above and beyond, if you ask me.”

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