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Superior student Santas share gift of giving

Inspired by a 2017 project, eighth graders from Superior Middle School purchased holiday gifts for 14 families.

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Superior Middle School eighth graders, left to right, McKenna Hammer, Jordyn Degnan, Veronica Acurero and Olivia Denston shop for a phone card for one of the family members on their list as part of a community service project Dec. 14, 2021, at the Superior Walmart. Students raised more than $1,200 for the gifts through a craft and bake sale. (Maria Lockwood / Superior Telegram)

Superior Middle School eighth graders stepped into Santa's boots Tuesday, Dec. 14.

Teams of students hunted through the aisles of the Superior Walmart, seeking the perfect gifts. Their quarry — toys, phone cards, socks and more — will brighten the holiday season for 14 families involved with the Mentor North program.

Each student was given one person to shop for, as well as a list of gifts they might like. Lila Gucinski picked out warm gloves, a pair of boots and art supplies for one child. Although she originally picked out a tin of colored pencils, she decided to upgrade to a larger pack.

Gucinski’s mother, Karen, who was one of the chaperones for the shopping trip.

“I’m so fortunate that she gets to be a part of this and she’s learning how to give back to the community. It’s a great experience,” she said.

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Superior Middle School eighth grader Lila Gucinski pulls a pack of colored pencils out of the cart after exchanging it with a larger pack while shopping for a child as part of a community service project Tuesday, Dec. 14, 2021, at the Superior Walmart. Maria Lockwood / Superior Telegram

"I think it's fantastic," said Jeanne Denston, whose daughter Olivia was another of the student Santas.

Every year, students in Amanda Lindquist’s eighth grade English classes are encouraged to spearhead community service projects. They’ve raised funds to purchase backpacks full of items for foster children in Douglas County and they've held clothing drives. Four years ago, one group opted to purchase Christmas gifts.

PREVIOUSLY: Sharing the gift of giving

This year’s eighth graders were inspired to put their own spin on Christmas giving after hearing about that 2017 experience from one of the original participants, Katlyn Patterson. Now a senior at Superior High School, Patterson job shadowed Lindquist this year as part of her senior project. The teacher had her read a newspaper article to the class about the holiday project.

Patterson can remember everything about that 2017 shopping spree.

“It reminded me of how good it felt to give back,” Patterson said.

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Lindquist asked for volunteers for the optional project and got so many she had to cap it at 25.

"We just wanted to help our community and thought it would be fun," said student Santa Bryn Kebhart.

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Superior Middle School eighth graders Bryn Kebhart, left, and Isabella Hill find a squishy pug pillow for one of the children on their list during a shopping trip at the Superior Walmart Dec. 14, 2021. A group of 25 eighth graders raised more than $1,200 through a craft and bake sale and used it to purchase gifts for 14 families. (Maria Lockwood / Superior Telegram)

The eighth graders raised more than $1,200 for the project through a craft and bake sale Dec. 8. Family and friends provided the items to sell, and community members snapped them up.

Karen Gucinski, a crafter, donated Christmas ornaments, gnomes and candles to the sale. Lila reached out to other crafting friends as well

"She was on it to get donations and make as much money as she possibly could," Karen said.

The students shopped for gifts Tuesday and wrapped them in the classroom the next day.

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Lindquist said the outing wouldn't have been possible without the community's support.

“Thank you to everyone who came out to support the arts and crafts fair,” Lindquist said. “Because of them, we were able to add more names to our list. Any extra funds that we have will purchase gift cards for families at our school so they could go out and buy something.”

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Eighth graders from Superior Middle School, from left, Lila Gucinski, Bryn Kebhart and Isabella Hill discuss which aisle to go to next during a shopping spree Dec. 14, 2021, at the Superior Walmart. The students purchased gifts for 14 families with funds they raised during a craft and bake sale earlier this month. (Maria Lockwood / Superior Telegram)

Related Topics: EDUCATION
Maria Lockwood covers news in Douglas County, Wisconsin, for the Superior Telegram.
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