Teacher Cadet Instructor Craig Gilstrap had his hands full Friday morning, not only guiding the Teacher Cadets at North Augusta High School, but also orchestrating the school's annual presentation of gifts for The Christmas Store, one of the community's most widespread holiday traditions. Gilstrap said. "I've been here since 1993. We've done it every year... and before that, too. I assume it's probably 30 years." The program helps provide Christmas gifts for dozens of local kids who might otherwise do without, and the parent organization, The Christmas Store, reaches hundreds of additional families.
The high school did its part Friday, holding a "parade of gifts" in which Gilstrap's Cadets presented truckloads of donations – bicycles, games, dolls, sporting goods, clothes and more – collected over the past few weeks by campus clubs, organizations and first-period classes.
Gift buyers have some guidance by way of lists provided by participating recipient families, so wishes will be granted as much as possible," said senior Kurtis Poole, a Teacher Cadet. He noted that a fundraiser earlier in this school year helped pave the way. "On Thursday, the Teacher Cadets go and, with all the donated money, we ... buy all the rest of the things that weren't gotten on those lists, so that all the things are covered." He added, "We try to make it as fun as possible so that the students will want to participate in giving gifts, so that the children receiving the gifts have the best Christmas possible."
Gilstrap stated, "It is our favorite event of the year. It is actually good recruiting tool also because I had some males asking what they need to do to be in Teacher Cadet for next year!"