Happy Valley Elementary students receive holiday surprise from FLSmidth

As Christmas is less than a week away, many families in Carter County may not have the resources necessary to truly celebrate the season. For those families, though, the community has them covered.

Tristin Johnson’s CDC (Comprehensive Development Classroom) class had a surprise for them Thursday morning as each students received several Christmas gifts a week before the holiday.

Jackie Burleson said her husband and other employees at FLSmidth in Johnson City raised money to let the teachers buy presents for all the kids in the class.

“They shopped for three and a half hours at Walmart,” Burleson said.

When the adults started handing out the gifts, several for each students, their faces lit up instantly and the room became noisy and excited. Some shook their boxes to try and see what they were getting, some stared at the piles in disbelief, and some were on the verge of opening them right then and there without being told.

Johnson said it felt incredible to be able to provide for her students like this.

“Just seeing all these happy faces, it feels good,” she said.

She emphasized they were only able to do this for their students because of FLSmidth, not through any additional resources on their part.

“All these teachers have the same means I do,” she said.

Burleson said the teachers deserve the opportunity to provide for their students like this.

“They have done a wonderful job,” she said.

While it may seem weird to some to receive essentially a second Christmas, Johnson said some of these kids do not get anything like this during Christmas, if anything at all.

“This may be the only Christmas they get,” Johnson said.

The teachers mentioned this is not the first year an outside group has sponsored their class; Lowes did it last year, but Johnson said any class could do the same with the same level of community support.

“We just want to provide the best for them,” Johnson said. “We advocate for children in any way we can.”

The donation comes as the students are learning about traditions and what they mean for a group of people, so Johnson said it coincided with the ability to teach them how traditions can carry on throughout the years, such as gift-giving.

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