By Obed Manuel
Copy & Opinion Editor
Terri Edrich, executive director of Human Resources at Brookhaven College, walked the halls of E Building carrying six boxes covered in colorful gift wrap. Dr. Thom Chesney, president of Brookhaven, walked with her. The two, along with the Head Start program staff, moved 152 boxes into E Building’s reception area.
The children in room 2A quietly lined up, unaware of what was coming. Parents who arrived to pick up their children also stood in silence.
Gradually, the staff members called the children and handed them a gift from Santa Claus.
Horacio Valenzuela, whose son is enrolled in the Head Start program, helped the children unwrap their gifts.
The Coats for Kids drive raised funds to purchase coats for all the children in the Head Start program. Organizers received a discount from Macy’s department store to purchase the coats.
Edrich said she came up with the idea at the end of October 2011 after seeing the children in the Head Start program collecting candy for Halloween around campus.
Edrich said seeing the children open their gifts made all the hours of wrapping worth every minute of stress.
With a smile, Edrich watched as the children tried on their new jackets. Edrich said she wanted the children and their parents to be happy.
Valenzuela said his son was in real need of a new jacket and that fortunately this would not be a worry for him or his wife this winter.
“More than anything, I’m grateful,” Valenzuela said. “To see how the people here went through the time and effort to do this for the kids, it’s just — I’m grateful.”
Edrich said she would like to see the program recur every holiday season and would like to consider toys for next year.