Giving Christmas to others

Published 4:47 pm Thursday, December 20, 2012

PHS juniors and Key Club Members Lindsay McMillan, Erica Hallman and Kathryn Clemmons ring bells and sing songs as they man a Salvation Army donation kettle. (contributed)

By CONNIE NOLEN / Community Columnist

Three teenage girls walked briskly ahead of me as I started toward the store. Although I couldn’t see their faces, I suspected I knew them.

One girl was unusually tall due to her green reindeer-antler headband. Only teenagers completely comfortable with their creativity will wear reindeer antlers in public.

I didn’t see the kids in the store, but I found them as I left. They were tending the kettle as Salvation Army volunteer bell ringers and singing Christmas carols with amazing joy.

“I knew that a girl wearing antlers would be my student,” I said as passed the bell ringers. The girls dissolved into laughter before starting another song. Kathryn Clemmons grinned under her antlers.

At school, I asked Clemmons if she had been bell-ringing with her friends for church. “We signed up through Key Club,” Clemmons said.

PHS math teacher Jean Coker sponsors the PHS Key Club, whose main goal is service. Yet, I’m noticing that every PHS club seems like a service club lately.

“To me — this is what Christmas is all about!” PHS Fine Arts Department chair Kim Harrison said. “Providing our students opportunities to think about others and do for others helps them to be more appreciative — especially when most of them have so much.”

Harrison leads the PHS art club in sponsoring and shopping for a family each Christmas.

“We also make Christmas cards and take them to the residents at Golden Living Retirement Home,” Harrison said.

“Seeing the older people smiling and so happy, knowing that they may not usually have many visitors, I feel good about our club’s efforts,” PHS Art Club President Hadden Bennett said.

Matthew West sings a song called “Give Christmas Away.” Lyrics from the song promise that “your life will be changed by the gift you receive when you give this Christmas away.”

As our National Honor Society leads a schoolwide food drive, the Literary Magazine staff collects children’s books and our entire community joins together, we remember the grieving, we serve the needy and we discover the great joy of service. May peace prevail this holiday.


Connie Nolen can be reached by email at