"Hope for the Holidays" for Boys & Girls Club members

The atmosphere was festive, to say the least. The activity bus from the Monroe Boys & Girls Club was greeted at the curb by Santa’s elves, as the cafeteria at Weddington High School was transformed into the North Pole. This is the sixth year of “Hope for the Holidays,” so you can say it’s becoming tradition.

Each Club member is paired with a group of Weddington students, many of them members of the high school’s mentoring club, National Honor Society, FCA or literary club. The kids received a stack of books, and enjoyed a feast with their new friends.

But, the fun really kicked into high gear when Santa Claus himself made an appearance. One-by-one, each child was called up and received a bag of gifts – coats, shoes, dolls, Nerf guns, footballs, and more. More than 20 kids went home with a bike. To make this possible, students at Weddington High “adopted” the wish lists of the Monroe Boys & Girls Club members. They raised financial support and went shopping to provide Christmas gifts.

And, the young lady behind the scenes making it all happen is Carly Rauch, a senior at Weddington High. She began planning this event last

January, taking up the reins from other students from the school. She’s participated in the past, but this year was her opportunity at the helm.

“It’s important to do things like this because many of us are so fortunate. I know many Boys & Girls Club members in our community come from difficult circumstances, so it’s an honor to be able to provide some gifts for them at Christmas.”

When Rauch says she knows, she really does. She is no stranger to working with the Boys & Girls Club. She’s a member of the Monroe Club and serves as a Junior Staffer, regularly helping tutor and support the younger Club members.

“I go to the Club because I want to be as much of a blessing to the kids as they are to me,” she said. “I have learned so much for the kids and their positive attitudes, despite the circumstances they might be in.”

Weddington High faculty advisor Catherine McCloskey beams with pride as she sees many of her students – like Rauch – giving back.

“So many people give back because they have to or feel like they should,” she said. “My favorite thing about this event is our students seeing first-hand that service is fun! Our students get as much joy out of it as The Boys & Girls Club members do.”

If the wide array of festive Christmas sweaters weren’t proof enough of the joy McCloskey was talking about, you’d be convince by the screams of the kids and volunteers when they opened their presents.

“I got a Barbie!”

“I got a fishing pole!”

“Sweet! A football!”

It’s difficult to say who enjoys this event more – the recipients or those on the giving end based on the smiles from Rauch and her classmates.

“Whenever I’m around these kids,” Rauch said, “it instantly becomes the highlight of my week.”

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