Submitted photo##Willamina High School students raised $2,000 to purchase presents for more than 50 kids this year.
Submitted photo##Willamina High School students raised $2,000 to purchase presents for more than 50 kids this year.
By Paul Daquilante • Staff Writer • 

Willamina High students play Santa for local kids

Scott Nelson, the leadership/social studies teacher at Willamina High, knows the students are going to bring much joy to these girls and boys as a result of their participation in the fourth annual Shop for a Student Program.

District employees first help identify students in kindergarten through sixth grade who are in a position of economic hardship, according to Nelson.

With money that has been raised during the year, through various means, high schoolers shop for gifts that will be delivered to children throughout the community.

“We’ve done a tree of giving in the past, but this year we decided to start something in our own community,” Nelson said. “These presents are going to kids we will have contact with throughout the year.”

More than $2,000 was raised this year, and that was enough to purchase gifts for more than 50 children. Students carried out an array of fundraising efforts.

“We go out and spread the word,” Nelson said. “Some of the students put donation jars at local businesses, there was a pie-a-teacher fundraiser and students talk to family and friends.”

Nelson’s leadership class organizes school dances. Some of the money those dances bring in is used to help purchase gifts.

Wrapping paper is donated, according to Nelson, so that’s an expense that’s taken care of, which the students greatly appreciate.

Once the recipients are identified, they are asked to create a wish list of items they would like, according to Nelson. Each high school student receives the name of a child to shop for, and hits the stores.

This year, they headed to Target, Toys “R” Us and Walmart. “We try to maximize the excitement for the dollar,” Nelson said.

Some students purchase just one gift for a child, while others might pick up several. A pair of gloves or a hat is an ideal stocking stuffer.

It’s quite the scene when a large group of high school students goes through checkstands at each store with shopping carts filled with gifts.

“The kids have a great time,” said Nelson, who is assisted by teacher Ariah Fasana. “People in the stores want to know what they are doing, and they get to tell the story. People love hearing that.”

Students fanned out across the community last Thursday and Friday, distributing the gifts to the children.

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