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Magic of giving shows at Hedgesville DECA party

December 18, 2006|by TRISH RUDDER

HEDGESVILLE, W.Va. - Christmas is all about giving, and the 26th annual Christmas party hosted by Hedgesville High School DECA students on Sunday afternoon showed just that.

About 75 people attended the party at the high school, including present and former DECA members.

DECA is a national association of marketing students and provides management leadership, said Frank DiNicola, marketing teacher at the high school.

Each year, DECA high school students solicit donations from area businesses to buy gifts for elementary school students who attend Opequon Elementary and Hedgesville Elementary Schools in Berkeley County.

Eleven children were chosen this year.

"The schools choose the children," DiNicola said.

"This is a community service project to teach the art of giving, and this will make Christmas better for these children," he said.

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More than $3,000 was raised this year through local donations to support children in Berkeley County, said high school senior Fallon Brehm, 17, who is the DECA president.

"The kids make a wish list," she said, and about $240 was spent for each child on toys and clothing. A Christmas meal was provided Sunday, along with entertainment from local magician Michael T., and a secret Santa who handed out the gifts.

Brehm and seniors Megan Nisewarner, 17, the DECA secretary, and Kayla Miller, 18, worked together to buy gifts for Dakota Domer, 7, and Daniel Myers, 5.

All three said they probably will cry when the kids open their gifts.

Carole Henry is a 1983 Hedgesville High School graduate and former DECA member. Lauren Henry, her daughter, is a DECA member who helped raise funds for the event.

Next year as a senior, Lauren Henry will be able to buy and wrap the presents and be part of the excitement of interacting with the kids as they open them.

"I'm looking forward to doing this next year," she said.

Carole Henry said this event has become a family affair.

"My mother-in-law, Jean Reid, helped prepare the food and my niece, Megan Nisewarner, is a senior who is participating."

Nisewarner's mother, Amy, made 11 blankets, Lauren Henry said.

DiNicola said the project receives "lots of community support and tremendous support from the business community," including the Wal-Mart Superstore in Hagerstown, which "donated coats for all 11 children."

Michael Dodson, a former DECA member who graduated from Hedgesville High School in 2002, said Wal-Mart is one of his clients, and James Hornsby, store manager, donated the coats.

Dodson works for Coca-Cola Bottling, which donated the drinks for the party, he said.

Brooke Walls, also a former DECA member and 2006 graduate, said she organized the event last year.

"I learned a lot from Mr. DiNicola in his classes and I want to keep participating," Walls said. She was his teacher's assistant in her junior and senior year.

"It makes me happy to see the kids smile," Walls said.

DECA has 42 junior and seniors, and DiNicola said he likes "to teach the kids the art of giving and giving back to the community."

He has been teaching since 1973, he said.

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