For the last 20 years, principal Buddy Welch and the staff at Central Heights Middle School have made sure every student goes home with at least one Christmas gift.
The school collects donations — money, sporting game tickets, etc. — before and during the holiday season. Welch said the middle schoolers — first, eighth graders; then seventh, and then sixth — gather on the last day of school before their winter break. This year, that day is Dec. 15.
One by one, the students get to pick out a gift from an assortment Welch has collected and purchased from donations.
“Each student takes home something,” Welch said. “I try to make sure each student gets a gift of $20 or more. It’s just a good thing to end the semester, every kid walks out of here with a smile on their face. That’s the best part of it to me.”
He said he’ll have tickets to University of Kansas basketball games and Kansas City Chiefs games, clothes and more for the kids to choose from. Just last week, Welch said, he had 15 pairs of shoes that were donated.
“Anymore, I don’t have to advertise, people call me,” Welch laughed.
One sponsor this year plans on helping transport kids via bus to a Kansas State University basketball game, he said. But Welch added that they need the community’s help in order to make sure no students leave empty-handed. When Welch receives monetary donations, he said he goes out to stores like Kohl’s and Walmart to buy the presents.
“When you’re talking about 150 kids, at $20 a kid, it ain’t cheap,” he said. “It takes a lot of resources, and then going out and shopping and buying it in the same month.”
To donate, contact Central Heights Middle School at (785) 869-3555. The school is accepting donations all the way up until Dec. 15.