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Helping hand for the holidays: Gretna High School students hold ornament drive to help

Angie's goal this year is to surpass 130 tree kits.
Posted at 7:38 PM, Nov 17, 2023

GRETNA, Neb. (KMTV) — If you celebrate Christmas, then a Christmas tree is probably one of the main things in your house during the holidays. But what is a Christmas tree without ornaments? Students held an ornament drive so trees can have that sparkle.

Eleventh grader Caroline Mix carefully places the over 50 sets of ornaments collected earlier this month. She got right involved with the drive. Like many people, Christmas is her favorite holiday.

"Ornaments seem very small. They're just one little thing they put on the tree. In bulk packs they're very inexpensive. A plain Christmas tree is nothing without the ornaments on it," said Caroline.

It all started with Caroline's teacher, Kellye Deane. Last year, she sent a message to Angie Slaughter, who runs the Holly Jolly Christmas Project which donates Christmas trees to families in need every year.

Her students are no stranger to giving a little extra holiday cheer. Last year, Kellye and her students helped assemble tree kits. This year she wanted to try something new.

"And when we thought what we could do at the school, it wouldn't be within our wheelhouse to be able to have students actually buy a Christmas tree. So we thought, they could do the ornaments because they're already packaged," said Kellye.

Angie said she's just another person trying to make a difference in someone's life.

"I just feel it in my heart. There's no better way to say it. And the support we get in the community," said Angie.

Hoping to make a tree "Sparkle" just in time for Christmas. She hopes to help hundreds of families across the Omaha and Gretna area.

"What I look to do is look at the elementary schools that have the most free and reduced lunches. Because there's possibly more of a greater financial need there. I work with the social workers and school counselors there," said Angie.

And it's more than just a bright, shiny, circular ball...

"The fact that there's going to be a tree in someone's home, where there wasn't one before. That they are going to be able to see and experience that Christmas tree like they've seen in commercials or seen in movies and never had in their home. The impact is the person, not the ornaments. That's what makes this special," said Kellye.

Angie will start to hand out Christmas tree kits to local elementary schools in early December.

To donate to the Holly Jolly Christmas Project, their Venmo is @hollyjollychristmasproject. Their GoFundMeis also accepting donations.

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