“We have a guidance counselor at each of the elementary schools and they are very aware of the needs at their school,” AHS math instructor and Tiger Christmas coordinator Katy Carder said. “They send us information that is very personal and that’s what makes it special.
“We don’t have the children’s names, but we have their personal information like their age, [clothing] size, what they like, something they wanted specifically, and I take that information, put them on my cards then the high school students and teachers take those cards and go out and buy something specifically for that child.”
She said items most requested this year were outdoor toys.
“We had a lot of bicycles and scooters and footballs and of course we had some Flutterbyes and dolls, but we also try to make sure that all the kids get clothes and, if they don’t have one, a coat. Every bag goes out with some kind of clothing or shoes, depending on what they need,” Carder said.
Once all the items are collected, they are then transported to the other schools for distribution.
“It’s real exciting for the high school kids here. ... One of the first years I was doing this here I had a teenage boy who didn’t have a whole lot himself opened up his wallet and there was a small bill and a large bill and he gives me the large bill,” Carder said. “The kids here don’t even hesitate, they’re always looking out for each other and giving.”
AES counselor Wendi Rood said Tiger Christmas also is assisted by local businesses and churches and that all the children and families who benefit from the program are very appreciative.
“I send a form out to every student and where it says ‘reason for requesting assistance,’ a lot of people have been laid off, we still have people who are struggling from the tornado, there’s only one [parent] working — those are a lot of the reasons now rather than just disability and being unable to work,” Rood said.
Rood said she also appreciates the work of AHS students involved in Tiger Christmas.
“It’s so heartfelt. A lot of the kids at Adairsville High School tell their parents they want to use the money that would go toward them at Christmas to sponsor a child here at the elementary school because they want to make [a child’s] Christmas day so much brighter and continue the spirit of being young and how Christmas day is so magical,” Rood said.
Junior Katie Graf has been participating in Tiger Christmas since she was a freshman.
“Normally I look through all the cards and see which one touches my heart the most. This year I got a card where a 6-year-old boy and most kids put down they want toys or Xbox games and this boy put ‘any,’” Graf said. “I had to pick him, because anybody who is willing to put ‘any’ [toys] is needing to have a good Christmas.”
Fellow junior Dalton Urda is president of the AHS drama club and encourages members to participate in Tiger Christmas.
“Throughout the weeks we just get piles and piles of clothes coming in and toys for little kids,” Urda said. “Especially this year, there are a lot of people in the drama department who are low on money and having smaller Christmases, but everyone is bringing in as much as they can afford ... and we’ve managed to provide these big, elaborate gifts for the kids and just make sure each kid has something amazing to open for Christmas.”