LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) — Much like Santa's elves, fourth graders at Christian Academy of Louisville packed hundreds of toys and clothes for special delivery this holiday season. 

Christian Academy has been participating in the Mountain Santa program for 11 years. Instead of a Christmas party, students filled bags with gifts and wrote personal notes to children who will receive the gifts in Harlan County, Kentucky.

The Mountain Santa program began 45 years ago when Mike Howard started delivering gifts to eastern Kentucky. Two of his children have carried on the tradition since Howard's death in 2018. Since CAL got on board with the program, it has become one of the elementary school's favorite projects. 

"It's important, because there are kids that aren't as fortunate as us, and they like don't have all the things that we have," fourth grader Trevor Daugherty said. 

Fellow student Jacob Higdon explained the personal notes to each child: "We write notes because we know God is with us," he said, "and he knows that he is watching over them, and we like to put his words into the notes."

Around 100 students from five classrooms kept busy wrapping, packing and writing. The students' parents and teachers will tell you they are also learning an important message during the process. 

"The kids are getting the understanding that they are, it's not all about themselves," teacher Linda Proffitt said. "It's about other people, and they are making these gifts so that children who are a lot less blessed than they are will have a nice Christmas. And they understand that. They really understand that this is a way they glorify God."

Many students worked much of the year, often in their neighborhoods, to collect gifts. Some used their own money. And some fifth graders have such fond memories of the collaborative effort that they helped this year, as well.

The presents will be loaded on trucks this weekend and driven by CAL families to be distributed in Harlan County.

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