By: Kristyn Blackwood
In past years, Fort Mill schools have done the “angel tree” Christmas give project. This is a charitable opportunity that gives each class in the school a child for whom they buy presents and donate money. These children and families are referred by organizations, such as the Fort Mill Care Center, to schools so the children will be able to have a Christmas. Every child deserves to open at least one present on Christmas morning, and organizations like this give them this pleasure.
Taking a step away from tradition this year was Springfield Elementary School. Instead of taking part in the “angel tree” charity, Springfield took on a new adventure. They volunteered with the organization called the Red Bag Program. This program gets connected with local businesses and schools to aid needy families with Christmas gifts and money to buy gifts. It was created more than 25 years ago by Kansas City social workers. The name suits the organization very well because the presents collected for each child are placed in the company’s signature red bags.
A young kindergartener was super excited to be involved in such an amazing opportunity through his school. The child, Luke Beauchamp, began to help by offering his services to his mother with the household laundry to earn money. “I folded my clothes, put them away and my mom showed me which buttons to press on the washing machine to make the water come out, and how to turn on the heater in the dryer,” Beauchamp said. Luke was not the only child to sacrifice something for the cause. Other students enrolled in Springfield used up their own birthday and allowance money for the gifts. Altogether Springfield raised $4,000, happily exceeding their preliminary goal of $3,500. The money was then split between 28 families identified by the Fort Mill Care Center.
Springfield’s Principal, Peter Olinger, said how involved and excited the students became because they were able to do so much for needy families in their own community. Although the “angel tree” organization allowed the students to minister to other needy families, the students just were not as involved as they became in this new program. Parents and volunteers hope that the triumph and excitement for students involved in this program will boost other schools in the community to take part in the Red Bag Program for future years. Praising the students, Olinger said, “We want the kids to take an active role. This gave the kids a chance to practice their work ethic and it brought it all together for them. They see the fruits of their labor.” Springfield students were more than ecstatic about this great opportunity given to them. They were able to actually know where the donated money is going and also got to help wrap as many presents as they wanted. This is most likely why the participation rate was so much higher this year than previous, the children were more involved and enjoyed helping out the community in such a life-changing way.