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Published: Tuesday, 12/18/2012

Springfield teens step in as elves

BY MIKE SIGOV
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Grisoranyel Barrios, 17, left, jokes with Carolyn Manley, 17, center, as the pair join their classmates in wrapping presents for children at Providence Lutheran Church in  Springfield Twp. Grisoranyel Barrios, 17, left, jokes with Carolyn Manley, 17, center, as the pair join their classmates in wrapping presents for children at Providence Lutheran Church in Springfield Twp.
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Carolyn Manley, 17, could be doing any number of things to recover from a busy school day Wednesday. Instead, the senior at Springfield High School chose to have two hours of high-paced manual labor.

Miss Manley was one of about 20 teenagers from Springfield High School who volunteered as Secret Santa's elves, helping her wrap presents for 100 children from area families in need last week at Providence Lutheran Church on Airport Highway near Albon Road in Springfield Township. Ranging from babies to 10-year-olds, each child was to receive six items from the Secret Santa.

"When you wrap the present, you know that each kid might be getting the same thing, but because that kid doesn't have something at home that their parents weren't able to provide you are providing that for them," Miss Manley said.

"And that just makes you feel like you are giving them the world," she said, noting that it's her second year helping wrap gifts for the needy.

The teenagers were helping a Secret Santa from Springfield Township who for the past 10 years has been buying gifts for hundreds of children.

Nate Gillette, 17, left, jokes with Brian Chamberlain, 16, right, while the pair wrap presents for children Wednesday afternoon at Providence Lutheran Church in Springfield Twp. Nate Gillette, 17, left, jokes with Brian Chamberlain, 16, right, while the pair wrap presents for children Wednesday afternoon at Providence Lutheran Church in Springfield Twp.
THE BLADE/KATIE RAUSCH Enlarge | Buy This Photo

The Secret Santa said she had spent between $2,000 and $3,000 this year on such gift items as fleece throws, Barbie dolls, and games, in addition to a stocking for each child. She bought them mostly on sale for children selected by Springfield Local Schools' guidance counselors, she said.

"There is a lot of families out there that need help. And I am just wanting to make sure each child at Christmas time has something under the tree," the gift giver, who refused to give her name, said. "It could be a $40 item that I bought for $5," she said.

"This is [also] something my mother had always done. She had helped other families," she added. "And talking to high students today, I am hoping to plant the seed of something they might want to do in the future."

Mikel Princesa, 15, also of Springfield Township, could be seen listening intently to what the Secret Santa had to say just before the wrapping began.

The fact that he was helping needy children "makes it completely special," the Springfield High sophomore said.

Contact Mike Sigov at: sigov@theblade or 419-724-6089.



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