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McPhersonSentinel - McPherson, KS
  • Secret Santa helps families in need

  • In 2011, Canton-Galva school district’s superintendent, Bill Seidl, called two women into his office two weeks before Christmas, gave them $600, and asked them to provide for a list of families in his district that needed help.
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  • In 2011, Canton-Galva school district’s superintendent, Bill Seidl, called two women into his office two weeks before Christmas, gave them $600, and asked them to provide for a list of families in his district that needed help.
    The Secret Santa program is now in its third year and helps more than 50 Canton-Galva kids get something for Christmas.
    Damian Lund, one of the women who helped start the program in 2011, said she and her partner, Brianna Lance, quickly decided to make it a community project.
    “My partner and I just ran with it the first year, doing all the buying, wrapping and delivering,” Lund said. “The last two years we had more time to plan out how we wanted the program to work and came up with the Angel Trees.”
    These Angel Trees are placed at three participating banks—Farmers State Bank in Galva, Citizens State Bank in Canton, and The State Bank of Canton in Canton—as well as Canton-Galva High School. The trees are covered with angel-shaped pieces of paper with a number corresponding to a student in need and an item the child wants or needs.
    Community members take these papers, purchase the items and deliver the items to a local school. The school district packages the items and delivers them to those who need them.
    The district also accepts monetary donations to cover leftover tags.
    “In the last two years, we have only had four to five tags left on our trees,” Lund said. “So if you think about the numbers we have to start with and how many we have left over, you can see what a great community we live in.”
    The first year, the program helped about 40 kids in 12 families. The second year, Lund and Lance were joined by Jennifer Becker. The three call themselves Seidl’s “elves.”
    “It’s unbelievable how organized and well-run it is,” Seidl said. “Often we get hung up on negative parts of life. We don’t always recognize the good in people.”
    This year, the program is helping more than 50 needy children in the Canton-Galva school district. Parents can register kids with the district, and Becker said the community response has been great.
    “With the exception of late registrations, fewer than four tags each of the last two years were unclaimed by the community,” Becker said. “However, monetary donations funded the expense to fulfill the needs of the unclaimed tags.”
    For Seidl’s elves, the Secret Santa program helps them see beyond their own families during the holidays.
    “I think around this time of year, we get caught up in our own families’ happiness. Sometimes we forget about those families that don’t have the chance to do something for their kids during the holidays,” Lund said. “The Secret Santa program gives those families the chance to see their kids’ joy Christmas morning. It also gives those in the community the chance to be an angel to a kid in need and be a part of the joy.”
    Page 2 of 2 - Seidl said his elves’ enthusiasm is easy to see.
    “They talk about the joy and happiness it brings to them to give to others,” Seidl said. “People just want to help each other out.”
    Becker said helping others is something every community should do.
    “We understand as parents ourselves what it means to be able to provide a joyful Christmas for our children,” Becker said. “If we are able to relieve some stress that is involved in putting presents under the tree for each child in the homes of our neighbors, and know that those children won’t go without on Christmas morning, then we as a community have done a small part in what we’ve been called to do.”

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