BELT – For more than ten years, the Belt school district has held their annual Operation Santa.
Operation Santa is where students in the 5th grade raise money in the fall and then in December buy and wrap presents for local children who are in need.
This year the students started raising funds for Operation Santa in the September.
The students said they raked leaves, held bake sales and held a raffle to raise funds.
Teacher Kathie Metrione said this year’s class raised more than $1,600.
On Thursday students went to Walmart in Great Falls to buy presents. Metrione said, “They’re coached to buy some practical and then some fun. So some of the items they might get are toys, clothes, even like accessories, hair accessories, make up.”
The students then came back to the school to wrap all the presents.
Students said it made them feel happy knowing they’re helping other kids.
Katy Smith said, “It made me feel good because I know that other kids get to have a nice Christmas.”
McKenzie Pogany said, “It makes me feel happy because then they get to experience what we get to experience every year and they know that someone is out there looking after them and making sure they get to have a happy Christmas too.”
Madison Knutson said, “It makes me feel really good because I’ve had had Christmases all my life.”
Metrione added that giving back to the community gives her students a sense of belonging and appreciation to where they live, “It’s the Christmas season, the season to give back to the community. To give to others. I think they get appreciation for that and learn how to be a community member.”
Operation Santa also allows the kids to prepare for the real world. Each student has to apply for a job and give references. Students are then picked to either be a banker, an accountant, or a shopper.”
Reporting by Kasey Herman for MTN News