Niagara Gazette — Santa Claus will return to the school today to complete the final three rooms before the district shuts down for two weeks to celebrate the holidays.
Fonte spent considerable time planning, executing and overseeing the project. It was amazing, then, to see the reactions from each child as Santa first walked through the class door, she said. Or to see their eyes light up when the gift bags are revealed, or when the gifts are unwrapped and they see what's theirs to keep.
She said it was all worth it.
"It's incredibly emotional and overwhelming," Fonte said. "The gratitude and appreciation from the kids, you can't even put it into words."
Her actual accomplishment was much greater, though. Molly Kurek, the school's guidance counselor, said what happened at Cataract goes beyond just one charitable act.
When the school makes requests on behalf of students to the various charitable organizations throughout the area, there's usually some sort of catch. Either they only get a finite number of requests or something else holding back the inclusion of everyone who needs help.
But Fonte's effort missed no one. Every single student in the four grade levels of the school's primary program was given surprises of a lifetime and can now say they received the Christmas they've always wanted, whether or not they get one at home, too.
"This helped out everyone," Kurek said. "This way they all get something.
"There's never been something to this magnitude (here). We're all just blown away by the amount that was donated. It definitely demonstrates the meaning of Christmas. Every time I think about it, I cry."Contact reporter Timothy Chipp at 282-2311, ext. 2251 or follow on Twitter @timchipp.