Christmas comes early for southern Indiana students in need

HARRISON COUNTY, Ind. (WDRB) -- Heth-Washington Elementary School in Harrison County, Indiana, has one of the highest poverty levels in the county.

That's why it was extra special for both students and parents when the children tore into bags filled with shoes, clothing and other gifts. It also led to a lot of happy faces.

It all happened on Thursday afternoon. It was a nice surprise for parents like Laura Schneider, too.

"Me and my husband have eight children," said Schneider.

Heth-Washington's poverty level makes this extra special for the students.

"We're at 75 percent poverty," said Nissa Ellett, Heth-Washington Principal.

So without this special gift, there would probably be a lot of sad faces on Christmas morning.

Ellett explained, "We've had several students who have had shoes that were torn up or we've been repairing shoes all year with different things...duct tape, staples, whatever we can figure or find to fix them."

That prompted Ellett to start a fundraiser to buy a pair of shoes for all of her students.

"We figured that we'd have to raise about 6-thousand dollars to do this so we thought well, lets try. So we put the information out on social media," she said.

In just a matter of weeks, the school met and exceeded its goal.

"We ended up raising $17,000 so we expanded, we reevaluated well, what else can we get for our students," said Ellett.

So instead of a pair of shoes, every students got a bag loaded with several things.

"We decided to buy snow boots, hooded sweatshirts, gloves, hats, chap stick is a big need...we also purchased some candy for them," Ellett said.

Thanks to Kentuckiana generosity, every single student in the school gets a bag. That's why, for parents, a flip of the shoe box lid, reveals much more than just a new pair of shoes.

"The response that they got shows how much this community comes together when the kids need them," said Schneider.

"The biggest compliment that I can have is that they understand how much the school cares about their kids," said Ellett.

It is a lofty goal, but Ellett hopes to raise even more money next year to do it all again. 

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