HEALDTON - It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas in some corners of Healdton High School, but not because of any premature holiday decorating. Family, Career and Community Leaders of America students at the school are acting as Santa’s helpers to collect, organize and distribute 175 bags of items for residents at the Ardmore Veterans Center.


“Our members visit the center every year and love visiting with the residents as much as the residents love them,” said FCCLA advisor Amy Worsham. While not their first visit to the Ardmore Veterans Center, this will be the first Christmas bag donation the group will be doing for the center. The bag donation is also the newest service project among a long list of other events the group undertakes.


“It’s nothing for them to work about 200 hours in a month,” she said of the more than 80 FCCLA members at HHS.


While four young women sorted gifts and packed bags on Wednesday, they also talked about a previous visit to the center. When a resident celebrated a 100th birthday last year, students said they spent time with veterans by playing cards, dominoes, pool, and even video games. “It’s exciting to get to know you’re helping people out,” said junior Macey Howell, who also has a military veteran in her family.


The Christmas bag project started weeks ago, when students sold t-shirts to raise money for the bags. Now the Healdton FCCLA is relying on donations to purchase remaining items. The bags are already being stuffed with a variety of useful and playful items: blankets, slippers, calendars, playing cards, and more. FCCLA president Camdyn Cook hopes the variety of gifts is appreciated. “Now they’re going to get things they will actually use,” she said.


The bags are not complete, however. The group still needs more white t-shirts, soaps, shaving cream, and monetary gifts to complete the gift bags. Worsham said they will accept individual items or monetary donations. She said they are also trying to get bags for some specific residents.


“There are five women that are there currently, so if somebody wants to donate the entire bag that is strictly for women, that is something they can do as well,” Worsham said.


Worsham said donations -- whether monetary or of needed items -- will be collected until Nov. 30. The students will visit the Ardmore Veterans Center in early December to distribute the gifts and visit more with the residents. Then the most difficult part of the project will begin for Worsham -- getting the students to leave.


“They have so much fun interacting with the residents that, when I say we have to be back on the bus at a certain time, the kids are still in there,” she said.