Jose Reyes’ eyes widened as he saw an orange bike with his name on it, an early gift from Santa and a group of students from Tulsa Technology Center’s Lemley Memorial Campus.
“It’s going to go so fast. I can’t wait to ride it any time I want,” said the kindergartner. “Santa showed me that it has a timer to tell me how fast I’m going. It’s like a motorcycle.”
Tulsa Public Schools was a microcosm of the holiday spirit on Tuesday, with events throughout the district that highlighted the giving nature of people this time of year.
At Skelly Elementary, students from Tulsa Tech provided new bikes to 17 kids in pre-K through second grade.
Chase Ragsdale, a second-year welding student at Tulsa Tech, remembers the first bike he received.
It was on Christmas, and he wrecked it that morning.
“I started going down the driveway … hit a patch of ice and slipped and crashed into the other side of the street,” he said, adding that it’s pretty cool to be able to help provide that first-bike experience to others.
“It’s always better to give to somebody else than to ask for something,” Ragsdale said. “I just wish we could have brought more bikes.”
At Anderson Elementary, every student had the opportunity to choose a book to take home.
The Association for Women in Communications has been donating books to the school for the past four years as its philanthropic project, and this year the group was able to get enough books to provide one for each student.
Some of the students went for the funny books, some for the scary books. Some chose immediately, and some weighed their decision for a long time, skimming through books and studying covers to make sure they chose the right one.
Anderson librarian Erin Burns said it was great for students to be able to take home their own books.
“Having an at-home library reinforces what we’re doing in school,” she said.
Heather Hope-Hernandez, president of the AWC, said the group’s members, as communicators, know the importance of reading.
“And we know our kids have been having some trouble reading on grade level,” she said.
The school district’s elementary students were not only on the receiving end of things.
Students at Patrick Henry, led by the student council, donated 1,728 toys to Family & Children’s Services.
“We try to teach them empathy and who will be the end user and put them in their shoes so they can better understand that situation,” said Joy Carr, librarian.
Fifth-grade teacher Michele Fischer said she was surprised by the volume of toys the students brought in.
“I expected about 500 (toys). I never expected all this. They really gave with their hearts,” she said.
The students brought in new and gently used toys throughout December for the drive.
“There are kids who are helpless and need toys. We felt bad for them, so we wanted to give toys to charity,” said Nathan Callahan, a fifth-grader. “Some kids would feel bad because they don’t have toys for Christmas. This way, everyone can be happy on Christmas.”
Mike Averill 918-581-8489