Porter Ridge students bring Christmas to Walter Bickett

INDIAN TRAIL – Members of the Porter Ridge High School Interact Club recently joined forces with the Porter Ridge High band in an effort to make Christmas a little brighter for a handful of Walter Bickett Elementary School students.

The Porter Ridge High band performed for the students of Walter Bickett Elementary after delivering gifts to 160 “angels” the Porter Ridge High Interact Club sponsored for Christmas.

Six years ago, members of Porter Ridge High’s Interact Club decided to reach out to Walter Bickett Elementary “angels” who were living on limited means during the holidays.

For seven consecutive Decembers, each Porter Ridge student involved in the sponsorship project has received a wish list of an angel from Walter Bickett. Club members work together to provide each angel with an entire outfit – shirt, pants, socks, underwear and a winter jacket – along with a toy.

“This year … we had about 160 angels, so each one of our members and some teachers from the community committed to sponsoring every student on the list,” said Katy
Reichert, Porter Ridge High assistant principal and faculty advisor to the school’s Interact Club.

Reichert said the club begins talking about the sponsorships six to eight weeks in advance. Because there were so many Walter Bickett students on the list this year, the Porter Ridge High band
members were recruited to help, as well.

“Just the sheer volume of students on the list this year … the band program stepped up because there were so many angels,” she said. “Not everybody could sponsor an angel; it’s a tough time overall for everybody, but the kids really wanted to help and we were able to pull together to make it work.”

Once the items were purchased, 125 Porter Ridge students boarded four school buses and headed to Walter Bickett to distribute the gifts. Each student got a chance to meet the angel they’ve been paired with and give their gifts in person. They spent about 30 minutes playing with their angel and getting to know each other. The students also ate lunch together, the Porter Ridge High School band performed a selection of holiday tunes and even Santa made an appearance.

Porter Ridge junior Mark Turner, a member of the Interact Club, sponsored a second-grade boy who wanted a Thomas the Train toy. Mark got to spend time helping his angel put together his new Thomas the Train puzzle set.

“He loved it,” Mark said. “He was really excited about it, and he was really excited about the coat. He was putting it on and
everything, which was really cool. That was probably my favorite part about it, just playing with the kid and seeing his excitement over little things.”

Reichert said sponsoring the angels is important for Interact, a service club that also hosts two blood drives and works at the Special Olympics each year, because it allows club members to work with a diverse population of students and give back to those who are less fortunate.

“I love diverse kids and working with kids that might need extra help or attention,” she said. “When I see (the Porter Ridge students) interact with the students at Walter Bickett and I see their hearts are touched and they … want to do better and reach out to people they normally wouldn’t see, that’s my favorite thing.”

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