Dec. 3 marked Etowah High School’s Shop With an Eagle (SWAE) event, and students spent the day bringing joy and cheer to the community. They covered the cafeteria with wrapping paper, ornaments and tinsel, until it was no longer recognizable. Small children filed in and waited at decorated tables, preparing for the holiday celebration.
Every year, Etowah hosts this event, a day where kids from underprivileged families get to enjoy crafts, games, Santa Claus, food and a Christmas show. Students and staff spend the weeks prior fundraising, shopping for the kids and preparing for the event. Along with the fun activities, the mentors (Etowah students assisting at the event) give the junior Eagles (kids) and their families bags of presents, and supply them with extra food and necessities to help them through the holiday season. Following the event, the mentors write a letter to the child they were paired with, thanking them for the great day and wishing them a Merry Christmas.
“I did SWAE because it was something that I have never done before, and it sounded like it would be a great experience. I liked how everyone that participates in the event gets something out of it, and everyone can have fun with each other while doing so. My favorite activity during the main event would be the game section, because my junior Eagle (and I) played bean bag toss the whole time. And, even after 20 minutes, he did not want to stop playing,” sophomore Satya Prabhuram said.
SWAE’s main goal is to spread joy to the community and provide those in need with a happy holiday season, allowing parents not to stress about providing food and clothing for their families. Many of the kids in the program do not get the privilege of having bundles of presents under the tree each year, like others in the community. Typically, their parents are focused on just having enough to make dinner each night. However, this day helps take the stress off their shoulders and allows them to focus on enjoying the fun in the Christmas season.
“I enjoy SWAE because it is a really fun experience for, not just the kids, but for everyone. What I love most about the event is that we are helping less-privileged kids that are so grateful for every little thing they are getting out of SWAE. It is honestly a great environment for everyone, and we all have a ton of fun,” junior Kira Stevenson said.
Those who enjoy serving the community, want more volunteer hours, or like working with children are best fit for SWAE.
“SWAE is an amazing experience. It is a great way to give to the community. I love seeing the joy on all of the kids’ faces as they do the fun activities,” freshman Victoria Sprecher said.
If your Eagle missed the deadline to apply last year, do not fret. Opportunities to get involved with SWAE will return near the end of 2023. Students with questions about the event can visit Kristy Wiggins in room 7206, Donell Osborne in 7205 or Mystic Henderson in 3202.
– Hailey Weiner is the head of staff. She aspires to pursue a career in journalism or law, and her dream is to make it to New York.