Christmas charity success inspires selfless students

High school students mustered every ounce of magical Christmas feelings they have for the Santa’s Anonymous program

Ponoka Composite High School students pack 115 hampers of food for the 31st annual Santa’s Anonymous program. The hampers where delivered Dec. 19.

High school students mustered every ounce of magical Christmas feelings they have for the Santa’s Anonymous program, but some students feel even their best isn’t enough.

“I wish there were more programs like this all year round, not just at Christmas,” said Grady Wygiera.

Ponoka Composite High School’s Santa’s Anonymous program created 115 hampers for needy families. The program began 31 years ago and because of students like Wygiera, and the support of the community, it’s still going strong.

Preparations for the program started back in October and approximately 50 donation boxes were distributed throughout the community in November. “Each kid had about five or six places to look after,” said staff organizer Karen David.

By Dec. 12 the boxes were collected and brought to storage rooms at Diamond Willow Middle School. Due to renovations, high school students weren’t able to run the program from there as they usually do. David says the high school is grateful to Diamond Willow for how accommodating they’ve been.

Students then spent several classes sorting, wrapping, loading, delivering hampers, as well as cleaning up the rooms at the middle school they occupied.

Once every hamper was filled with food and children’s gifts there was still a room full of toys left over, which will be kept in reserve for next year’s hampers. “Knowing that we get to make some kid’s Christmas is amazing. It means that we get to help somebody else that’s less fortunate,” said high school student Autumn Hewitt.

“It makes you feel good about yourself too because you’re not just being selfish, you’re helping someone that needs the help,” said Grady.

Classmate Damion Mandryk feels giving is better than receiving when it comes to the holidays. ‘That’s what our coach is always telling us,” said Hewitt, referring to PE teacher Scott MacGregor, who’s also involved with the program.

“I think Santa’s Anonymous in particular is a really unique chance. This is positive energy, and positive energy is good,” added Graham Buffalo-Jackson.

Buffalo-Jackson feels programs such as Santa’s Anonymous can’t have a positive influence on the world without people supporting them and giving the needed push.

Once every hamper was packed and ready to be loaded, more than a dozen students and other members of the high school community, including vice-principal Kathy McTaggart, spent approximately two hours, in –20 degree weather, delivering them.

High school student Marena Stamm and younger sister Isabell, who attends Crestomere School, did their work with unwavering smiles and cheer for every hamper recipient, including a family with six children.

“I’m helping because I wanted to get a charity for my 4-H club,” said Isabell. “I think it’s a really great thing to hand out food and presents to people who can’t get it for themselves, so they still get the Christmas they deserve.”

Marena Stamm has been involved with Santa’s Anonymous for three years. “When I first heard about it I thought it was so cool. I wish we did more.”

The biggest reason Stamm decided to participate again this year was because of an experience from last year’s deliveries.

Stamm and a friend delivered a hamper to an older couple living in a trailer park. The woman was adamant she wanted to pay for the hamper and the girls’ time. “People like that make you realize how amazing people are, no matter what situation they’re in.”

Despite how much Stamm likes the program she believes it shouldn’t be as special as it is because it shouldn’t be as rare as it is. “I feel like everyone should be doing this, it isn’t special.”

To Stamm and her sister, helping out was a natural instinct. “Everyone can use a little help.”

“Or give a little help,” added Isabell.

Just Posted

Ponoka council challenged on payments on new building

Resident continues worries the town is paying over $94,000 per month on something it may never own

Plan to pump into Gull Lake won’t happen in 2019

Two-stage filter process to be evaluated by Alberta Environment

Remember When: A photo of the 1903 Ponoka Presbyterian Church

The building would late become the sight of the Ponoka United Church

Ponoka County denies rezoning over road responsibility issue

Application to parcel off land shot down by council due mainly to lack of access

Ponoka County council pleased with fire services budget

2019 budget presented to council include some higher operational costs

UK lawmakers reject Brexit deal in 432-202 vote

House of Commons votes against the deal struck between Britain’s government and the EU

Liberal candidate steps aside after singling out Jagmeet Singh’s race

Karen Wang says she made comments online that referenced Singh’s cultural background

Alberta doctor accused of sexual assault asked to voluntarily give up practice

College says Dr. Barry Wollach should discontinue his practice, given the seriousness of the allegation against him

Huawei founder thanks inmates, Canadian justice system for treating daughter well

Ren Zhengfei said he believes there will be a just conclusion to the case of his daughter, Meng Wanzhou

May government faces no-confidence vote after Brexit defeat

British Prime Minister Theresa May said she would stay put in her leadership role

Red Deerians can weigh in on proposed Bighorn Country investment tonight

Telephone town hall takes place 6:30 to 7:30 p.m.

Defending champions Team Scheidegger will fight to keep title

Stettler hosting 2019 Alberta Scotties provincial women’s bonspiel

WATCH: World-renowned illusionist, magician, escapist performs in Stettler

Matt Johnson performs two sold-out shows at Stettler Performing Arts Centre

Reflections: Looking back a brave Ponoka soldier

Private Frederick Keith Miller is recognized in this week’s Ponoka News history column

Most Read