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MAHS students act like elves to gather gifts for Christmas program (with video)

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The students in Jenny Maras' personal finance class at Morris Area High School who picked up donated gifts for The Christmas Shoppe project on Dec. 19. Rae Yost/Stevens County Times2 / 3
Morris Area High School students pick up donated items for The Christmas Shoppe program. From left to right, Ben Hernandez, Jorden Kill and Joseph Goulet. Rae Yost/Stevens County Times3 / 3

The jingle of bells could be heard inside the school bus. The sound came from the bells attached to green and red elf hats worn by Morris Area High School students.

The students were on their way Dec. 19 to pick up donated gifts for The Christmas Toy Shoppe program. The program is sponsored this year in Stevens County by the Morris Area Women of Today in partnership with the personal finance class at MAHS taught by Jenny Maras and Stevens County Human Services.

"Look at all these elves," Peggy Kill said as she watched the hat-clad students walking down the hall on Dec. 19. Kill has been spearheading the Christmas project for many years. Now that she's retired from the Salvation Army, she volunteeer to continue to lead the project.

Kill stood by a side door to MAHS and waited for students to board the buses that would take them to donation spots around Morris. Student Kendra Wevley said the donation stops could have one or two boxes. Those boxes could be big or small.

Before the students could pick up donations they had to contact businesses, asking them to be donation spots. The students also help inform the public about the program through fliers, contacts with local media, churches and other means.

"It was cool. It didn't feel like a job. It wasn't stressful," Wevley said.

Maddie Erdahl said the project was fun because "we got to help people."

Bus driver Jessica Hodgson drove the students from one stop to the next. Students brought boxes filled with Barbies, puzzles, trucks and other items back to the bus.

While one passed through Morris' downtown another bus was parked in the downtown. Students in those same red and green elf hats were on one corner holding donated toys while others walked down the sidewalk.

Kill helped the students bring the boxes of donated gifts into Faith Lutheran Church, which is this year's distribution site.

Kill said the only downside of the student involvement is they won't be able to help distribute the gifts on Dec. 22 to protect the privacy of participants. After the gifts were delivered to the church, the students and buses returned to the school.

As Kill watched the students walk back into the high school, she said, "It's wonderful. I think this is a great learning experience for them. The kids all seemed to love it."