A pair of spirited holiday elves danced into Mississippi Elementary School, Coon Rapids, Dec. 17, eager to deliver answers to letters that second-graders had written to jolly old St. Nicholas the previous week.
Of course, those letters included some urgent requests for toys, but most heartfelt were the little ones’ pleas for happiness, for life’s basic needs, for “a smiling mommy.”
Mississippi second-grade teacher Shawna Feist coordinated the letters to Santa effort with her sister Shalaine Seymour, a DECA club adviser at Rogers High School.
“My second-graders (wrote) letters to Santa,” Feist said. “They will learn… that Christmas is not just for asking for material things, but taking time to spend with our families and to cherish the gifts we have already been given.”
For Seymour’s DECA students who read and then answered the letters, they delivered a humbling lesson, Feist said.
“My sister said it was very humbling for her kids to see what these kids were asking for – some of the basic needs like snowpants, underwear, notebooks. It really opened their eyes to what some kids need,” she said.
To collect the letters to Santa, three DECA students – Megan Sharp, Courtney Steeves and Ida Demessie – dressed as elves and visited Mississippi’s second-grade classrooms.
The elves (aka Sugar Plum, Sweet Cakes and Cutie Pie) talked about the North Pole, described the delightful working conditions in Santa’s workshop and reminded the children how much they are loved.
“It was really heartwarming to read the letters,” Sharp said. “One of the children wrote, ‘I hope everyone has a house they can call home.’ That’s all she wanted, that everyone would have a home.”
Once they collected, read and replied to the letters, Sugar Plum and Sweet Cakes returned to Mississippi to deliver the replies.
“We didn’t promise they would get the presents they asked for,” Steeves said. “We told them ‘We know you’ve been good’ and the reindeer are getting ready to fly.”
“We wrote positive letters and encouraged them,” Sharp said.
For the Rogers DECA students, the letters to Santa was a community service project completed as they worked toward their chapter goal.
“This was just so fun and the kids are so sweet. We had a great time and hope they did, too,” Steeves said.
Feist was sure that her second-graders and the high schoolers enjoyed the activity.
“Both parties will benefit from this experience and as sisters it’s a great way to connect our schools and our communities,” said Feist who, along with her sister, is a former Anoka-Hennepin student.
Sue Austreng is at firstname.lastname@example.org