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Newport Elementary students make feel-good Christmas purchases

Kashi Tarango (right) considers buying this gift and is getting some advice from her friend and classmate Kayla Gonzales. Bulletin photo by Judy Spooner

First-grader Matisse Moore has a Christmas plan. He's not going to let his family even see their presents until the holiday arrives.

Amber Wiersgalla, also a first-grader, didn't agree. After thinking it over, she wants her mother to have her present as soon as she gets home from school.

Brayden Soto didn't have a plan for delivering what he bought; he just wanted to make sure he got a gift "for my grandma."

No matter how Newport Elementary School kids planned to give gifts to their families, students were smiling as they selected presents from tables set up in one of the gyms at the school last week. The holiday gift offering was overseen by parents Anne Dufrane, Tracey Morseth and Sonya Walsh.

Some schools, which buy the gifts from companies that specialize in offering gifts for kids to buy, offer holiday gift sales as fundraisers, but that's not the case at Newport.

Principal Aaron Kruegar, staff members and the parents who run the sale said it's important for the students to have an opportunity to buy gifts for their families at the lowest possible cost.

If some of the kids had little or no money when it came their turn to shop, parents volunteers, who also worked last year, made up for the difference. "We all went out of here last year with empty pockets," Dufrane said.

"We don't make money," Morseth said. "It's more important for the kids to be able to come and feel good."

The company that supplied the gifts also included a large stuffed animal free of charge and that also went back to the kids in the form of a drawing with the winner to getting the stuffed toy. A drawing was also held for a large stocking filled with family gifts.

Students see everybody else buying things, Dufrane said. It gives them some control to buy things for their families and means a lot to them.

The holidays are somewhat sad for her this year, Dufrane said, because of the deaths of her mother and grandmother. Her daughter, Madelyn, is a third-grader at the school. While shopping, she asked her mother if she could hang a Christmas tree ornament on their tree with "I Love You, Mom," on it to honor her grandmother.

"I just breaks my heart," Dufrane said.

She added that Madelyn also has plans to encourage Santa Claus to lead a healthier life. She plans to leave carrots and water for Santa's annual visit along with a note telling him that eating cookies is bad for him.

Judy Spooner
Judy Spooner is the longest-serving staff writer at the South Washington County Bulletin. Spooner, who covers education and features in addition to writing a weekly column, has been with the newspaper for over 30 years.
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