About 25 parents wait patiently in the cafeteria of Bell Elementary School, 2900 Wilmington Way. It is the calm before the storm.
Footsteps and chatter fill the hallways, and excited children race into the cafeteria to sit with friends and family. They exchange toothless smiles, high-pitched giggles and exaggerated waves.
“These are students who normally wouldn’t have a Christmas,” said principal Jaymes Aimetti. “Our teachers handpicked them for this event.”
One hundred students from preschool to fifth grade received gifts Dec. 20 from Palace Station employees who donated through Angel Tree, a program that allows individuals to purchase gifts for disadvantaged children.
Although many children received toys, instruments and books, employee Vicki Evans, 59, donated 100 hand-knitted scarves and beanies to the students.
“I thought about doing the Angel Tree the last few years, but by the time I got to it, it was already done,” Evans said. “So this year, I thought to get a head start on knitting some scarves and hats. I decided to make 50, but I obviously got a little carried away.”
Evans started knitting for the children at the end of last year and made about two items each week.
“I just kept throwing them in the closet when I was finished. I didn’t even bother to count them,” Evans said. “When I finally did count them, I had 70, but I didn’t like that number so I decided to shoot for 100.”
The majority of the scarves and hats donated were knitted, but some were crocheted, she said.
“I know it sounds weird, but I can knit in the dark,” Evans said. “So when I went to a movie or on a road trip, I sat there and knitted. It made me feel like I wasn’t wasting time.”
According to Marsha Striano, director of human resources at Palace Station, the casino adopted the school for the entire school year.
“So far, we’ve helped them with back-to-school drives, candy cane drives, Angel Tree, a Halloween carnival and Nevada Reading Week,” Striano said. “It’s important for us as a company, property and personally to give back to the community.”
The elementary students were also learning how to give back by collecting cans to be recycled for money. The money was to be donated to an animal shelter or nonprofit organization of the students’ choice.
“I want them to understand it’s not always about receiving,” Aimetti said. “They have to give back as well.”
Contact Southwest/Spring Valley View reporter Caitlyn Belcher at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0403.