Springfield IL Dec 23 2016 Washington Middle School sixth-grader Kamry Green was still in shock minutes after it was announced Wednesday that she was going home with a new bicycle.
"I thought I was going to faint when they called my name," an exuberant Green said.
She was among dozens of students at Washington, 2300 E. Jackson St., who went home Wednesday with a Christmas gift and a smile.
For the 10th straight year, Washington civilian security guard Darryl Williams organized the Christmas giving event he calls 50 Smiles.
The idea began, Williams said, because he noticed there were dozens of kids at Washington whose needs were going unmet.
"When I first started, I didn't care if I got 10 gifts. I just wanted to bring a smile to kids' faces," he said.
The event has grown over the years, and 2016 was the biggest yet for donations, with 80 kids going home with a bag filled with book bags, gloves, hats and other necessities, Williams said.
Washington Middle School teachers, Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc., Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Eastside Pride, One in a Million, Green Family Stores, the Springfield Police Department and the Andre Iguodala Youth Foundation donated to the effort.
Two lucky students, including Green, were chosen in a drawing for a Huffy Cruiser bicycle.
Lakeisha Purchase, who works for the Illinois Department of Transportation, bought one of the bikes. Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity donated the other.
The State Journal-Register