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BOE hopes to make holidays happy for teens

By Sherri Ellington With the Empty Stocking Fund and Toys for Tots concentrating on making Christmas happen for Lamar County children under age 12, the school system is stepping up to help make the holidays happy for teenagers. ’Christmas assistance is going to keep me busy,’ said school social worker Kiana Battle. The Christmas Assistance program helps provide Christmas presents to students ages 13 and up since they are not eligible, due to their age, for some of the community Christmas assistance programs. ’This year we have two local churches sponsoring, First Baptist Church and its Ruth Sunday school class and Milner United Methodist Church,’ said Battle. ‘Each church sponsors 12 students each. As of now we have about 18 students on our list.’ Some funds the school receives from its annual charity basketball game also help students who may be in need. ‘Over the years we’ve helped anywhere between 40-50 students,’ she said. ‘I coordinate efforts with school counselors; they provide me with student names and I contact parents and create a wish list for each student.’ The bulk of items on the wish list are clothing and something fun for the student. ‘It’s hard to say what items are needed as each student has a specifi c wish list based on needs,’ she said. Anyone who is interested in sponsoring a student can contact Battle or write a check to the LCCHS Family Assistance Fund. ’The deadline for receiving names was Oct. 31 in order to coordinate efforts with sponsors in a timely fashion so they can begin their shopping,’ she said. ‘We’re flexible if we receive new names. The goal is to distribute the items the week we leave for winter break.’ All gifts come wrapped by the sponsors and Battle coordinates delivery with parents. ’Sometimes I’ll go shopping for them myself,’ she said. ‘The assistance remains confidential through the school.’ The program provided gifts for 50 teens last year.

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