Students spread holiday cheer as they give back to the community

Drew Dawson, Staff Writer

Finding Christmas presents under the tree is a typical experience every child has. With the help of some school organizations, Benton County’s Christmas for Kids makes that experience possible for many struggling families.  Not only do local businesses participate in this charity, many school clubs do as well. Some of these organization are English club, FFA and NHS. Christmas for Kids has helped over 600 kids this year, this is just a little more than last year.


Christmas for Kids is more like a secret Santa, because the club members do not get to see the children when they are given their gifts. The clubs are given a limit on the amount of money they are able to spend on the children’s gifts.


Senior NHS President Rickie Branson mentioned that NHS goes to Wal-Mart and select toys that the children they are shopping for are interested in.


     “These kids deserve Christmas and we have the resource to help their parents give them the Christmas they deserve,” Branson said.

  Many organizations are glad that they get to do projects like this because they feel like they are making a change, not only in themselves, but also the people around them.


   “It’s really inspiring, you get to see what we can do in the world and change it for the better,” sophomore FFA member Braeden Wood said.

   These organizations are also glad that they have opportunities to work together and not do things on their own.


 “Doing projects like this are giving the students the ability to give back to the community,” according to senior English club president Marissa Brown.

      It allows these students to feel good knowing that they are helping people and making differences in people’s lives.


“ English club has donated to this program for several years. It is important for our students to understand the hardships faced by families in our community and to instill a desire in students to help out those in need,” English teacher Tricia Foster said.

   The two most important people to this charity are organizers Chanda Chiles and Dawn Jelinek. They work as a team with the Benton County Human Service Council to make Christmas for Kids happen.


“Knowing that we are helping the community is our number one priority,” Chiles said.


“I love helping kids and definitely enjoy knowing I am helping put smiles on kids faces Christmas morning,” Jelinek said.

   In the beginning, when they were building the foundation of Christmas for Kids it was tough, but now they have the community on board helping them make the program function much easier than it was.

  “It’s rewarding because I have a passion for helping children,” Chiles said.

   According to Chiles running the charity can be stressful, yet rewarding. This charity was created because Chiles wanted to help the families of Benton County because she knew first-hand of the need since she had worked for the school district for 14 years.