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Once again, the Elf Club at Benton Middle School came through in a big way to help children who otherwise would face a bleak holiday.
Starting a year ago, the students sponsored projects to raise money for the annual toy drive that benefits hundreds of local families.
And the sponsoring organization, Saline County Kiwanis Club, say it's one of the most rewarding projects they have ever been involved in.
"The kids do most of the work," said Kiwanian Lisa Thornton, "because they work on projects all year long to raise money. But we work together at the end to make a lot of little children and their parents very happy.
"It doesn't get any better than that," Thornton said.
Thornton, who has taken part in the drive for several years, said most of the children who are aided by the drive "would not have any Christmas without this."
"To see their faces light up when we deliver the toys is an amazing experience," she said. "Saline County residents have been so generous. It's a joy to me to know that I can help a child enjoy Christmas.
"CJCOHN gives out the food baskets on the same day, and whether it's a bicycle, a gift card or something else, seeing them receive it does your heart good," she said.
Thornton has been involved in numerous community projects, but says this is the "most rewarding thing I've ever done."
Sue Shults, principal of Benton Middle School, expressed her pride in her students.
"They are so dedicated to this project year after year," she said.
"I just continue to be so proud of our students and faculty and staff each year on behalf of others," Shults said.
She said the youngsters "exhibit the true spirit of Christmas."