Carson City schools catch holiday spirit

Photos by Shannon Litz/Nevada Appeal

Photos by Shannon Litz/Nevada Appeal

When Johnny Maseda's teacher asked the Carson High School class for donations to buy Christmas gifts for a local family, Maseda knew what he would do.

"I knew I got $40-$60 a week in tips, so I just saved them up," he said.

At the end of two weeks, he brought $80 in quarters to his government class.

How he got the money is easy enough to explain; it's why he did it that leaves the 17-year-old at a loss for words.

"I don't know," he said. "I just did. It feels better knowing they got a Christmas."

It's the same reason he bought a bike last Christmas for a child in need.

"My mom was so surprised," he recalled. "But I have the money to spend, so ...."

Teacher Angila Golik said she had hoped to get $50 for each of the three sisters her class adopted through the Empire Angel Tree program. Instead, the class raised $340 - enough to buy the bike the oldest girl wanted.

"Oh my gosh, now we can do that," Golik told her students.

Mirranda Margolin, 17, also saved her tip money to donate. She also asked friends and family to help her raise the $50 she contributed.

"When I was younger, my mom didn't have a lot of money," she said. "She had two little kids and was on food stamps. She told us how hard it was."

While Margolin was happy to help the girls, she said she also was happy to give their mother a merry Christmas.

"Just for her to be able to see the joy on their faces when she gives the toys to them," Margolin said.

Although not much older than the children they're helping, Maggie Jessberger, 17, feels a sense of obligation to them.

"It's our responsibility," Jessberger said. "These kids are going to get older, and we need to help them as much as we can to help them have a better place to live."

The gifts will go to students at Empire Elementary School through the Empire Angel Tree program organized by office manager Denise Dimarzo.

Dimarzo started the program four years ago, offering holiday meals and Christmas gifts to students in need.

It has grown from 35 families the first year to 100 families this year, serving 371 children.

"It really makes a difference in these children's lives," Dimarzo said. "The community is amazing. It's wonderful to be involved with this."

In addition to supporting the Angel Tree program, students at the high school also are supporting programs such as Advocates to End Domestic Violence.

"There's so many kids and teachers doing wonderful things in this building," Golik said. "We just have a very generous community that looks for ways to give back."

Dimarzo said her program offers the community the opportunity to feel the joy of giving and receiving.

"I am doing a service to (the donors) as well as the children," she explained. "People want a direct connection to the child they are giving to."

It's a sentiment echoed by Carson High School senior Ali Fleming.

"It makes you feel better because you're giving back," she said. "That's an awesome feeling."


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