December 26, 2007 Edition

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Kiwanis continues sharing joy of
Chistmas at Cooperative Schhool

Haley Finney, a client at the Lawrence County Cooperative School, is excited to receive a gift from Santa at the school's Christmas party. The Walnut Ridge Kiwanis Club and Walnut Ridge High School Key Club provide gifts for the annual event.
TD Photo ~ Gloria Wilkerson

Gloria Wilkerson
TD Staff

For more than 30 years Lawrence County Kiwanians have helped the clients at the Lawrence County Cooperative School celebrate Christmas. Kiwanis members say they receive more happiness from giving the gifts than the clients get from receiving them. The clients at the school would probably disagree because they love their Christmas party.

The Kiwanis Club and the Walnut Ridge High School Key Club hold fund-raisers each year, including a Radio-Thon and a pancake breakfast, to purchase gifts for the clients at Christmas.

Kiwanis member Phil Clark has been involved with this project as chairman for 31 years. "A lot of people take Christmas for granted but not these children and adults," said Clark. "They range in age from birth through adults. I enjoy seeing them and former clients and seeing how they have grown and matured over the years. After 31 years of doing this, they're almost like family to me.

"The first year I helped with this project, the school only had about 15 students," Clark said. "The number of students has increased over the years, and this year we bought presents for 60."

The party is indeed a heartwarming and joyous occasion.

The teachers at the school make a list for each client and then pick up the gifts and wrap them. The Kiwanis and Key clubs pay for the gifts and attend the school's Christmas party to hand out the presents.

The clients presented both clubs with a certificate of appreciation for all they do for the school. In addition to Christmas gifts, Kiwanis donates $1,500 a year to the school, and the amount is matched with government funds.

At their Christmas party on Monday, the group sang "We Wish You a Merry Christmas," directed by Charlie Isom, a client at the school. Kiwanian Brett Cooper read the Christmas story from the Bible, and Lyle Huskey sang an a capello solo, "Oh Holy Night." "Twas the Night Before Christmas" was read by Michael Duke. Duke and Huskey are both clients at the school. The group sang "Here Comes Santa Claus," and to their delight, Santa Claus arrived.

Kiwanis members Dan Ellison, Vickie Mitchell, Clark, Brett Cooper, Steve Brooks, president; Aaron Andrews and Keith Brand were on hand to assist Santa in passing out the gifts. Along with the gifts, Santa gave lots of hugs to very happy and excited individuals before he left.

Julie Maronde, assistant director at the school, said, "The clients start looking forward to the party months in advance and talk about what they would like Santa to bring them.

"We greatly appreciate all the things Kiwanis members do for the school, and that they do it with such a kind heart."

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