Niagara Falls, N.Y. (WKBW) - Cataract Elementary School in Niagara Falls got a very special visitor. Santa and his reindeer came with boxes full of toys, thanks to the efforts of one student teacher.
“When I started my placement here at Cataract Elementary, it became apparent to me early on that there were a lot of needy children here in the school. I knew Christmas was a hard time for them because some the students don't get to experience the joys of the season those other families that are more privileged do. So what I really want to do is provide a Christmas for them,” Student Teacher Lauren Fonte said.
Fonte came to the school from SUNY Geneseo. She wanted to make a difference in the lives of her students. It started with just one classroom. Then, the project grew, helping hundreds of kids.
“Operation Cataract Christmas is a service project that I put together to help provide a Christmas for primary students at the school,” Fonte said.
Principal Maria Chille-Zafuto said Fonte is a breath of fresh air.
“Watching her teach, I could see her passion for the students. She always wanted to do something for the children. When she told us about this community service project we embraced her idea,” Chille-Zafuto said.
Fonte said she couldn't do this alone...it was a school and community wide project, all for the good of the students
“Families from local communities and churches purchased tooth brushes, pajamas slippers along with toys and games,” Fonte said.
As for the students, including Mia Williams, they were excited about his visit and much more.
“He brought us presents. I got pajamas toothbrush, crayons and a coloring book,” Williams said.
The kids even got to sit on Santa's lap and they had a few things to say to the big man.
“Merry Christmas and thank you so much Santa,” Williams said.