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South Point High School students raise money to give kids a better Christmas

Dec. 27, 2012 @ 12:00 AM

SOUTH POINT, Ohio -- Mario Pallidino makes a pretty good Santa Claus.

Pallidino, a South Point High School senior and student body president, was pressed into service as Santa Claus to pass out presents to about 20 elementary students in the South Point school district.

The high school's student council along with the school's math honor society, Mu Alpha Theta, in conjunction with United Way of the River Cities, raised about $5,000 for the program called The Big Coverup, said Kent Stewart, a South Point High School history teacher.

Other school programs raised funds for some food baskets and high school teachers and staff raised $1,000 so some high school students could have a better Christmas, he said. The school's Young Progressive Club and the History Club, raised funds for the food baskets, he said.

Some of the students went shopping for the young children and them took them to lunch at the Marshall University Cafe in Huntington before presenting them with the gifts, Pallidino said.

"Kids don't want clothes for Christmas," Stewart said. "So the students went out and shopped for toys."

"These are good programs," he said. "It's a way to give back to the community. I think it's important to do things like this. It gets to you... I have been known to cry when I see the expression on the kids faces. We have so many student volunteers. It makes you feel good as a teacher to see this."

"I did this last year, but only the seniors get to get dressed up as elves," Pallidino said. He got dressed up as the head elf, but got to play Santa Claus when the person tabbed to pass out the presents couldn't make it.

"It was a great feeling," Pallidino said. "I've been on the receiving end of something like this. I've been there. It's a great feeling to know that there is someone out there who cares. Playing Santa was a great feeling. To do this for someone else was a very good feeling."

Haleigh Henson, another South Point senior and the student body president, has participated in the program all four years at the high school. "This year I was basically Mrs. Claus," she said.

The students spent between $100 and $120 on the students between the ages of 5 and 7.

"It was all worth it," she said. "It's a real honor to be part of it. We made their Christmas. When we would call their names, their faces lit up."