TYRONE - The Christmas joy at Tyrone Area Elementary School on Thursday was apparent as Jonas Albright, 7, finished mixing up a batch of reindeer food and said, "Merry Christmas everybody."
Jonas and 174 other Tyrone students in pre-kindergarten to fourth grade received some Christmas joy early, thanks to a community's generosity.
The school's annual Elementary Elves program took place with Santa handing out gifts of clothing to students that teachers picked to participate in the program.
Teachers pick out students who will benefit from the program, Principal Melissa Russell said. Students also received school supplies, a book and a pair of mittens.
During the program, they could make reindeer food to sprinkle on their lawn or door step. Students also wrote thank you letters to those who helped make the event happen.
Contributions came from The Tyrone Women's Club, the Warriors Mark United Methodist Church, Albemarle Corp., individual community members and school staff. The bulk of the funding came from Albemarle, which donated $5,000, Russell said.
The program shows the students that the school staff cares for them and wants "them to have a fun experience," school Family Resource Coordinator Linda Branstetter said.
"You want them to feel the school is more a community place [rather] than just a school," Russell said.
The event also allows interaction with families in a non-typical school setting, she said.
"I think it's great. It's fantastic," said Karla Galbraith of Tyrone, who came with her son, Tai, 5, and her grandson, Kyle, 3.
Stacy Bennett of Tyrone, who has four boys ages 7 years to 4 months, said it was nice of those who have the program to do it.
"It's an excellent program," she said. "It helps the community out, especially those who can't afford a whole lot for the holidays, and have to pick and choose between paying the bills and the holidays."