A ‘Joyeux Noël’ For Local Children

French Club Continues Its Tradition of Holiday Giving

Caroline Lee

Staff Writer

    Throughout the month of December, French Club shared the Christmas spirit with their Toys for Tots event.

    Toys for Tots is French Club’s annual visit to local low income preschools, which this year is on December 20.  However, this was preceded earlier in the month by gift wrapping on December 12 and 17, which consisted of putting toys and activities in gift bags for the children they meet, and a toy drive sponsored by the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve from November 13 to December 11, where the club collected toys to be distributed by the Marines.

    “Whatever we get is great,” senior and French Club Co-President Lucy Huang said.  “I don’t want to say that it is not important, but our focus is the Toys for Tots event. People do donate. It’s always a nice surprise to look in the bins and see new toys.”

    Students who participate in the event can choose either a morning or afternoon shift to be elves, photographers, or Santa Claus, but the latter is hard to get as very few males participate.

    “We try to have guys be Santa because at that age, kids can usually tell,” Huang said.

At last year’s event, senior Haarika Srinath talks with the the children of Hyman State Preschool as they open their gifts from Santa.  All of the presents were hand-packaged after school voluntarily by AHS students and included items such as coloring books, pencils, and teddy bears.  “It’s really rewarding getting to see the kids,” Srinath said.  ‘We stay there for ten to twenty minutes and read and talk with them.  They can talk about anything--like their dog or their favorite color.”  PC: Diane Zhou
At last year’s event, senior Haarika Srinath talks with the the children of Hyman State Preschool as they open their gifts from Santa. All of the presents were hand-packaged after school voluntarily by AHS students and included items such as coloring books, pencils, and teddy bears. “It’s really rewarding getting to see the kids,” Srinath said. ‘We stay there for ten to twenty minutes and read and talk with them. They can talk about anything–like their dog or their favorite color.” PC: Diane Zhou

    In fact, this level of comprehension is what makes the event so entertaining for many of the past participants.

   “I remember last year Tarun [Pasumarthi] was Santa and a kid asked him why Santa was so dark,” senior and Treasurer Haarika Srinath said.  “We had to tell him how Santa went on vacation and got a tan. They’re pretty perceptive.”

    The club visits six schools-Durham, Blacow, Hyman, Grimmer, Brier, Cabrillo and over two hundred preschoolers. To Srinath, the experience is rewarding and “magical” because of the children’s uncorrupted belief in “the spirit of Christmas and the holidays.”

    “It’s so nice to see the little kids,” senior Felicia Leach said.  “We get to read to them and it makes me feel good being able to play with them. It’s great that we get to bring some joy the the less privileged.”

    Although the main event takes place only one day a year, it is one of French Club’s biggest activities and requires months of planning in advance.

    “We started planning in mid-October and ordered gifts by November,” junior and Co-President Garima Raheja said.  “It’s a long term event.”

    Still, Toys for Tots has been a tradition of AHS French Club and with a greater interest than in previous years, the club is looking forward to yet another year of giving back.

    “It’s been going on for fifteen years,” Huang said.  “I was looking at old yearbooks from the 80s and there were French Clubs doing Toys for Tots.  It’s a service learning event and everyone enjoys it.”

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