Clubs bring gifts to Rock Bridge Elementary children

Adam Schoelz

The day did not particularly resemble December, or Christmas—the rainy weather and warm temperatures spoke more to April than blustery winter—but in the gymnasium at Rock Bridge Elementary the holiday cheer was palpable.

Along the walls of the gymnasium stood RBHS students in making small talk, standing guard over 17 bags of presents, waiting for children to come and claim them.
It’s the holiday spirit in the truest sense, a program called Adopt-a-Child, which attempts to connect less fortunate kids with gifts just in time for Christmas.  This year 16 clubs supported 17 kids at Rock Bridge Elementary.  At RBHS, the tradition of clubs sponsoring children in need has lasted for over a decade.
“The gifts from Adopt-a-Child come from different clubs and organizations at RBHS, and sponsors  and clubs take on responsibility of adopting a child, and then the clubs raise money and buy the gifts for the students,” said David Bones, activities director. “It’s been going on here at RBHS for as long as I’ve been here.  This is my tenth year here, and it always is around this time of the holidays.”
For the students at Rock Bridge Elementary, the magic grows greater each year.  At 4 p.m. they are released into the gymnasium where the gifts are kept, and confusion turns quickly to delight as the sound of tearing paper fills the room.  The gifts are varied: some girls get dolls and makeup, one lucky boy receives a bike.  As the bike circles the room, tentatively pedaled by the youngster, scattered applause breaks out.  For high schoolers caught up in the stress of finals, the feeling is cathartic.
“[It’s] seeing the reactions on the kids’ faces when they get what they actually ask for for Christmas when some of them just can’t afford it,” junior Julia Schaller said. “It’s a very humbling experience to give kids gifts.”
Teacher Austin Reed chaperones the older students on their trip to the elementary school.  Though aiding children in need is a great cause, he says that watching the high school students do it is particularly rewarding.
“It’s just cool to see these high school kids giving up their time, putting on funny elf hats and going over and serving, and delivering presents to these young elementary school kids,” Reed said.  “So for me it’s kind of selfish because I like seeing our high school kids serving these Rock Bridge Elementary School kids.”
As the unwrapping winds down, kids with gleaming smiles get down to the important business of comparison.  As teenagers help assemble gifts and wrap toys,senior Pascal White reflects on the true meaning if Christmas.
“Giving back to the community, because it’s not about all gifts, gifts gifts, but these kids don’t always necessarily get what they want, and they may not even get anything at all,” White said. “And they’re little kids and it just means the world to them just to be able to have something that shows people care for them.”
By Adam Schoelz