Warner students provide holiday cheer

XENIA — Members of Warner Middle School’s National Junior Honor Society recently filled stockings with toys and handmade cards for Xenia’s elementary-age students. This project started as an idea two years ago and has grown into an impactful service project.

In 2016, eighth grader and NJHS member Garrett Howison wanted to do something for those less fortunate. His first idea was to replicate Operation Christmas Child, a program that sends gifts in shoe boxes to needy kids worldwide. But Howison decided he didn’t want to send gifts overseas, he wanted to serve Xenia’s kids. So the Stocking Project began in 2016 and continued last year.

Howison moved to South Carolina just after his eighth grade year then died tragically a year ago from a bicycle accident. The project is continuing this year in his honor. He was a very giving student, always thinking of others.

“This project grew out of Garrett’s desire to reach our community,” said teacher Amberly Winegar.

This year to raise money for the stockings, the NJHS students held a Halloween dance. Then they brainstormed what to buy for the stockings and went shopping. They wrote each kid’s name on a stocking and made a card. The elementary counselors chose the students who will receive the stockings. Many of the students chosen are in foster care or simply need a kind reminder that someone cares this time of year. The counselors only send the child’s grade level and first name to the NJHS students for this project and the counselors deliver the stockings in private.

This year, 32 Xenia students will receive some extra holiday joy.