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HMS Students Spread Holiday JOI

The holiday season is about the joy of giving. It’s making others feel merry and bright, and reminding ourselves that small acts of kindness make a big difference.

Cali Zahn and Emma Schlosser, HMS students, prepare stacks of presents at the holiday party Dec. 14.

The Junior Optimist International (JOI) Club at Horizon Middle School, led by teacher and sponsor Kittrie Glen, aspired to make a difference when they hosted a holiday party Dec. 14 for children from Fostering Hope, a local foster care agency. While HMS has been organizing the event with Fostering Hope for four years, Emma Schlosser and Cali Zahn, both sixth-graders, experienced it for the first time.

“I wanted to do this because it makes me feel good to bring joy to these kids,” shared Cali. JOI Club teaches students about community involvement and leadership, and club members coordinated all the party details from initial planning, to asking businesses to donate food and gifts, to organizing activities and games. “We sent letters to stores to get donations, and today I’ve been all over the place helping with face painting and crafts,” said Cali.

The HMS gym looked seasonal with holiday decorations, presents and stuffed animals for the special guests, an ornament-making station and an assortment of refreshments. Orchestra and band members played holiday music to make the party holly and jolly, and children could visit with Santa Claus and Mrs. Claus to share any last-minute wishes.

For Emma the impact of the event was lasting. “We are creating memories for people,” she shared. “One of the girls I talked to was having fun and shared she doesn’t get to do stuff like this much.”

The holidays can be a challenging time for foster kids. “This is a wonderful opportunity for our families. It’s nice to have a safe environment for our families to celebrate the season,” shared Brian Newsome, director of Fostering Hope.

“This makes me feel so happy,” added Emma. “I can’t take the smile off my face!”

Santa and Mrs. Claus attend the holiday party for foster kids at HMS Dec. 14.  . Cali Zahn and Emma Schlosser, HMS students, prepare the ornament making station at the holiday party Dec. 14.  . Mathias Panetti, seventh-grader, plays holiday music at the holiday party at HMS Dec. 14.

Amy Matisek