Niagara Gazette


December 19, 2013

Falls student teacher shares gift of giving at Cataract

Niagara Gazette — Sometimes, the holiday season is more fulfilling to give than it is to receive. Lauren Fonte, a student teacher in a second-grade class at Cataract Elementary, found out first hand just how great the feeling can be putting smiles on the faces of children who maybe wouldn't have one without her.

Together with her church group from Whitehaven Road Baptist Church in Grand Island, she pulled off her own Christmas miracle within the walls of Cataract Elementary Thursday when students in pre-kindergarten, kindergarten, first and second grades got personalized bags with multiple presents wrapped inside. Every student. Just in time for the holidays.

"Originally, my goal was to help the 18 students in my second grade class," she said. "So I put the word out to my family, to my friends, to my church. The support I got was so great, it went from helping the one class to all 12 primary-level classes."

Her project began after hearing from some of her students just how much they needed help during the holidays. She said some told her they had no presents to open. Some said they didn't even have a tree. So, she wanted to see just how much she could help.

In their bags, each student received a pair of pajamas, a toothbrush and toothpaste and a pair of slippers. It was here she meant to stop. But an overflow of generosity actually made it possible to not only provide some bare essentials, but also a toy of some sort.

She wanted to make sure there was a bit of fun for the children, as well. After all, what child only wants clothes and a toothbrush for Christmas?

Delivering the gifts to the children required some help, so Fonte recruited a special friend of hers to help her make the rounds. Her friend, who has experience giving children of all ages their Christmas wishes, let loose some jolly laughs as he and his special helper elves were able to finish nine of the 12 classes Thursday.

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