Service Club Hosts Annual Christmas Gift Drive for ACC Students


Ava Fuller

Johnny Henry (26) wraps his gifts.

As the weather grew colder and Christmas drew ever near, adults and kids alike began to wonder what awaits them under the tree. For some, acquiring these presents can come with a few challenges. GHS students who learn in the Alternate Curriculum Classroom (ACC), along with members of the community with special needs were recently given the opportunity to shop for and wrap gifts to bring home for their families.
The annual Christmas Gift Drive took place from 9 a.m. until noon on Dec. 10. Former ACC teacher Mrs. Ann Ross oversaw this event for many years up until her retirement last spring. The torch was then passed to Mr. Patrick Ribar and the GHS Service Club, who organized everything this time around.
All of the gifts were donations from the community and each of the Gretna schools. A district-wide email was sent out to the staff asking them to show their support by giving. Flyers were also posted around the high school, bringing in student donations as well. This request was met with an outpouring of knick-knacks and quality items from the community. Tables were covered in ornaments, candles, slippers, key chains, jewelry, kites, mugs, board games, fishing poles and much more.
“There are certain things that we do with the community of Gretna, and it’s evident that they care,” Mr. Ribar said. “We got things from Aspen Creek Middle, Aspen Creek Elementary, and other elementaries, other middle schools and teachers from the high school. I don’t know who did it. They’re all anonymous and they’re fabulous. It has been tremendous.”
When students arrived, they were greeted with smiling faces and trays of cookies to snack on. Parents waited in the cafeteria or could tag along if they wanted. The secondary choir room was filled with tables covered in the gifts, all organized depending on what they were. There were sections of games, kids toys, candles, coffee mugs, purses, puzzles and many others.
Service Club members partnered with an ACC student and guided them through the store-like room, picking out gifts to place in their box. After all of the names were shopped for, students were then taken to the main choir room where there were several stations of wrapping paper, bags, ribbon and bows.
“I think it’s a cool opportunity for kids that probably struggle shopping in a regular store environment,” Mrs. Mary Jorgensen said. “This makes them feel comfortable because most of them are typically familiar with this building.”
The town of Gretna doesn’t take the holiday season lightly. With the help of the Service Club, along with generous donations, ACC students and other members of the community with disabilities were able to put some presents under the tree for their families.