JUPITER, Fla. — An incident in a Palm Beach County classroom more than a decade ago helped create a holiday tradition for a learning center near Jupiter.
The Edna W. Runner Tutorial Center has the objective of providing educational support to children, increasing their grade point average along with building self-esteem. They also do something extra for children during the holidays.
One-hundred and seven kids spend each afternoon at the center during the school year. During the Christmas season, the center turns into Santa’s workshop to provide Christmas to children and families who are less fortunate.
This tradition started more than 17 years ago after a student was caught stealing a gift.
“The reason why he stole the present was because all the kids in his class was giving the teacher a gift and he didn’t have one to give, so I said, 'Oh we can solve that problem,'” said executive director Edna Runner.
The event has since evolved to the kids shopping for their parents, siblings, and teachers –- all free of charge.
“When you hear the kids say, 'We get a Christmas this year,' or 'I can tell my mom you don’t need to worry about buying me gifts,' it really hits home,” said program director and former student Travis Conway.
The tutorial center is looking to expand in 2020 in an effort to help even more kids in the community.