STUART, Fla. - — Inside Martin County High School, you could hear the crinkling of wrapping paper inside Mr. Hessler’s classroom Thursday.
“This is the most we’ve ever had,” said Don Hessler.
But on Thursday afternoon, senior Erika Van Vliet was the one in charge.
“I just didn’t want to leave this family hanging, so I knew there was something that could be done and I just spread the word to family, friends, and the community,” said Van Vliet, who is the President of the National Honor Society at Martin High.
For the past five years, NHS members have adopted a family for Christmas.
“We do this by raising money through fundraisers for our school, but unfortunately due to COVID-19 this year we were unable to do that,” Van Vliet said.
But with Van Vliet’s hard work and leadership, and community support, she was still able to raise $1,300 and received other donations including new bicycles and a decorated Christmas tree. Other members of NHS also brought in other gifts, blankets, and clothes for a single mom and her five kids in Indiantown.
“They view this not as a project, it’s not even an activity. It’s kind of a way of life, it’s something they choose to give back,” said Mr. Hessler.
The students spent Wednesday and Thursday afternoon wrapping the presents, and they will be delivered to the family on Friday.
“That’s a life-changing moment, and not only from that celebratory oh look what we got for Christmas but look what somebody gave us for Christmas,” said Al Fabrizio, principal at Martin County High School.
Through all the struggles and challenges in 2020, this year the students have been able to wrap more gifts than ever before and will provide their adopted family an unforgettable Christmas.
“No matter what is going on, even if it’s a worldwide pandemic, there’s no excuse not to give back or to help others,” said Van Vliet.