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St. Ignatius students help others through craft, wreath sales

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Laughter and joy erupted in Walmart aisles Friday morning as dozens of St. Ignatius Middle School students sprinted through the store, snatching holiday gifts off of shelves and radiating holiday cheer.

A common scene to the untrained eye, one might simply think the kids were shopping for themselves. In reality, however, these middle-schoolers were spending money they raised to make the holidays a little brighter for 12 children they don’t even know. 

In fact, the students were so engrossed with their holiday project that they could scarcely be bothered for a comment. 

Each year, St. Ignatius middle-schoolers make fresh wreaths, earrings, pens and yule logs to be sold at different locations throughout the valley and, in some cases, nation wide. 

Teacher Dorothy VonHoltum said one of the wreaths was shipped to a Texan who’d just gotten back from a military deployment overseas. 

“It’s great for kids,” VonHoltum said. “They learn a lot of different things, like how to give change, and math questions regarding how much each item cosst to make and what we have to charge.” 

Profits from the craft and wreath sales are pooled and divided according to how many names the group had taken off of a Share the Spirit tree. 

“I just love seeing the kids and what it means to them. They take personal pride in it and they were excited,” she said. 

VonHoltum said that initially, it can be difficult for middle school students to understand where all their hard work goes and why they don’t reap the rewards of their toil and time. However, by the end of the project, they are excited to help others. 

“I think it’s just a true spirit,” VonHoltum said. “They’re donating all their time and it’s for someone else. They just learn what it’s like to give.”

In years past, the event has raised more than $1,000. This year, event organizers took out some money at the beginning of the year and bought gifts for deployed U.S. troops before Christmas.

This year, seven shopping groups comprised of students, teachers, parents and chaperones stormed the gates of Walmart. In another game conceived by school administrators, students were tasked with spending as much as possible without going over the group’s allotment. The winner got a free lunch at Pizza Hut.

“Every year it grows a little bit more, so next year we’re going to start taking orders ahead of time so we can start building the wreaths earlier,” VonHoltum said. 

“It just makes me really proud of all the students.”

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