For students of Vernon’s Alexis Park Elementary School, Santa’s elves wear blue and grey.
Representatives of On Side Restoration – wearing blue or grey T-shirts and golf shirts – were on hand at the school Monday to present every student (more than 220) with a Christmas goody bag.
“Every year for the past five years, we’ve been doing this,” said Neville Byles, branch manager of Vernon’s On Side Restoration. “We hit up our business associates and friends and ask them to make a donation.”
Last year’s event raised more than $11,500 and On Side was able to sponsor four families and give Christmas goody gift bags to kids in Cherryville and at Ashton Creek.
In five years, On Side branches, including Vernon’s, have raised more than $38,000 and helped out many kids and their families.
“We have a big gathering every year and tell our employees and those attending to come with a full wallet and make sure the wallet’s empty when they leave,” said Diane Prince, Vernon On Side Restoration’s operations manager, before handing out the first goody bags to the kindergarten students at Alexis Park.
“This is the fun part,” she added. “Watching the kids’ faces just light up.”
One of the gift bags was taller than kindergarten student Jayden Nicholson, who had to drag the bag to his seat on the gym floor.
Oh, and the gifts do come with a rule:
“You’re allowed to peek into the bag but you can’t take out what’s in it until you get back to your class room,” said Prince.
Shopping for the bags falls under the direction of Kim Prince of On Side, and she begins her shopping in January of each year.
The company makes contact with a school and is given a needs/wish list of what the kids could use and really want.
The gifts include things like Transformers, Barbies, arts and crafts, board games, and stickers.