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Trinity High School students donated more than $10,000 worth of gifts and food this Christmas in their biggest-ever effort to brighten the holidays for needy youngsters in their community.

``Oh, it was fantastic!' said Julie Brown, a guidance counselor who helped student leaders organize this year's Operation Santa Claus.``The athletes went to Trinity Elementary and actually watched the children open their gifts,' she said, describing how the school's teams raised more than $3,000 to buy gifts for 53 underprivileged elementary students.

Meanwhile, the Randolph County Department of Social Services provided a list of 122 needy children in the Archdale-Trinity area.

``Each third-period class took up money to sponsor one of the kids from Social Services,' Brown said. The result was $4,608.

Operation Santa Claus is coordinated by Trinity's student council. Judy Sullivan is the faculty adviser.

``Each class raises their own money,' explained Jean Johnson, the Social Services department's director of volunteer services. She worked with the school to match the classes with needy children.

``They do their own shopping and wrapping of gifts, and they are really generous with it,' Johnson said. ``In most of the cases this is the only Christmas that these families have.'

Several campaigns were conducted at the high school.

The Spanish Club spent more than $1,500 to furnish Christmas presents to 60 children at a children's home in Kannapolis.

The Key Club donated toys and games for Brenner Children's Hospital in Winston-Salem and provided a party for special education students at Braxton Craven Elementary School, complete with a visit from Santa and his elves.

The VICA Club collected food for Urban Ministry.

The Drama Club spent more than $400 on a party for 13 teenagers at Mills Home in Thomasville, with each recipient getting the gift of his or her choice.

``I have been doing this with (Trinity High School) for 12 years, and it gets bigger and better each year,' Johnson said. ``They are so organized, they just don't leave a child out.'

The volunteer director also credited the Archdale-Trinity Women's Club with making this year's distribution a success. Club members transported the wrapped gifts from the school to the Archdale-Trinity Chamber of Commerce's meeting room, where parents of the needy children picked them up.

Two other schools in Randolph County, Eastern Randolph and Randleman high schools, run similar programs each year, Johnson said, but Trinity's is the biggest.

``They just do an outstanding job,' she said of Trinity's students. ``They're most generous.'


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