WEST MEMPHIS (Evening Times) - Crittenden Regional Hospital has brightened the Christmas for special students at Faulk Elementary for the past seven years, but at the Schoettle Center the annual Angel Tree program took on additional meaning.
As she explained how important it was for the employees at the local hospital to feel connected to one of the local schools, CRH Human Resources assistant Delynn Brown's thoughts turned to the tragic shootings in Newtown, Conn.
"When you look at the faces of these kids you automatically remember those kids in Connecticut," said Brown. "It crushed our hearts over here when we saw that on the news. But we look in the eyes of these kids and we realize how precious children are and that every day with them is a treasure."
Christmas was made even more special for about 70 students from Faulk, which is CRH's adopted school in the Partners In Education program.
Gifts covered the meeting area of the Schoettle Center as the employees awaited the bus carrying the students. There were 30 bicycles, heavy winter clothing and the latest in toy technology.
"We live in a time where people hurt children," Faulk principal Janice Donald said. "It just means so much to us to help some of our children who might not otherwise have the type of Christmas that the rest of us enjoy. It's just so special that (CRH) extends their hand to us every year. I can't think of any other organization or business in our community that reaches out to this magnitude. We're so grateful to all of them."
The morning got off to a rousing start when the Big Fella himself, Santa Claus, made a brief appearance, leading the students in a couple of Christmas carols and even taking some "secret" messages from some of the younger students.
The event was led by the emergency room employees at Crittenden Regional. Terry Chambers, human resources director for the hospital, led the festivities before the presents were handed out to the students.
"This is something we love to do every year for the kids at Faulk," Brown added. "We want to make a more cheerful Christmas to the kids. That's what we endeavor to do every year in our Angel Tree program. It is in the spirit of giving that we do this and I think that everyone should remember that together we walk this journey in life. So we all need to be givers."
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