Angel Tree provides gifts to students in need
By Haley Schichtl
The Eureka Springs Angel Tree is a way for people to help others in their community be able to have presents on Christmas.
The program serves students in the Eureka Springs School District and their siblings who are not in school yet. Families who qualify for free lunches are eligible to receive gifts from the Angel Tree, said school counselor Rachal Hyatt, who organizes the program.
Students apply to receive gifts by filling out forms that indicate clothing size and gift ideas.
“We create a tag which leaves the child anonymous,” Hyatt said. “No information is given out to anyone else. There are no sponsorships. All gifts come from people wanting to pick up tags and purchase out of the goodness of their heart.”
People can then pick up a tag from Equity Bank, Cornerstone Bank, Arvest Bank, Bunch’s or Jewelry Show. Once they have purchased gifts, they can bring them unwrapped to the high school by Friday, Dec. 6.
“Our National Honor Society students then take over. They wrap all presents and gifts for the children in preparation for Christmas morning,” Hyatt said. “This is a full-circle project because our students see that not only are they helping people in their very own school, but they also recognize the spirit of Christmas and of giving. Our entire community is giving and is benefiting.”
Helping with the Angel Tree is a way that NHS students can get community service hours they need to stay in the club. The 40 Eureka Springs students in the honor society will wrap all the gifts that have been brought in for 144 students.
One student, senior Madison Cannady, is in her fourth year of being in NHS and helping with the Angel Tree.
“I like playing Santa,” she said. “I don’t personally know these kids, but I know they’re in my school.”
Senior Grayson Ertel has also participated throughout her high school career.
“It’s cool every year to see how you can help people so much, just being in high school ourselves. It’s kind of cool how big an impact you can make on others,” she said.
The students have been able to wrap gifts during class time if they are finished with their work.
“There’s families out there that can’t afford it, and I know I can help them,” senior Preston Hyatt said.
“It’s been helpful to the community, and I’ve seen first-hand how it affects some of the kids,” junior Camden Boardman said.
Boardman said there is not a price range; people can spend however much they see fit based on what the students ask for on their forms.
Rachal Hyatt said if a person would rather donate money than purchase gifts, they can do that as well, and some students will take leftover tags and purchase gifts with the money that was donated.
People can donate at the Eureka Springs School District PayPal by clicking the link at the bottom of the school district’s website, or by bringing the money in to the high school front office.
For any questions, contact Hyatt at firstname.lastname@example.org or 479-253-8875.