Families receive ingredients for Christmas cheer (w/video)

Elena Watts By Elena Watts

Dec. 21, 2013 at 6:21 a.m.

Maggie Hargrove, of Victoria, arrived three and a half hours early Saturday for the Carver Center Christmas Giveaway.

"I appreciate all the help I can get," Hargrove said. "I'm here because I need a turkey for Christmas dinner with my daughter and two grandsons."

She and hundreds of others stood in line until the Dudley Elementary School cafeteria opened about noon.

Each family collected a brown bag full of canned goods and was able to select one of three meats - turkey, chicken or pork. The offerings ended with a choice from two dessert-filled tables.

Members of Dudley's Early Act First Night Service Club, composed of fourth- and fifth-grade students, collected canned goods for two weeks leading up to the event, said Yvette Jackson, a second-grade teacher at the school.

They coordinated the parking lot at 7 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. to gather donations from parents dropping and picking up their children.

"This teaches them the virtue of service and helping others in need," said Heather Williams, the school counselor.

The children arrived early Saturday morning to sort through the canned goods, she said. They filled the grocery bags in an assembly line, making sure to include a nice variety.

"It took a long time," said Gabriel Jackson, 9. "But I don't care because it feels good to do something for the community."

The school sponsored a candy cane contest with a goal to collect 2,000 canned goods. Red stripes were colored on a large candy cane poster hanging in the school's hallway for every 100 cans collected.

Almost 2,500 cans were collected, and students were rewarded with hot chocolate and candy canes Friday.

Thirty new toys, 400 clothing items and $175 were also collected for the event.

Along with help from Dudley Elementary School, the Christmas giveaway is sponsored by the Old Landmark Committee, which has been involved in the program for 20 years.

"So many students in VISD called me 'mommy' or 'granny,' and I vowed not to let another child go without a Christmas gift," said Verlinn Sandra Avery, founder and president of the organization. "I'm so proud of these kids at Dudley."



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