Shop With a Warrior’s 10th annual event brightened local children’s holiday experience

Santa visits each of the youngsters to explain how he needs their help to wrap gifts.

Chris Degirolamo

Santa visits each of the youngsters to explain how he needs their help to wrap gifts.

Chris Degirolamo, Special Coverage editor

For many families in the community, the holiday season serves as a reason to give and receive gifts from friends, loved ones, and for some, Santa Claus. Sadly, Santa’s sleigh may miss some homes, leaving many children out on the fun gifts and joyful spirit that comes with Christmas. Staff and students in the Warrior Nation recognize that and do their best to help the underprivileged children in the local community by participating  and hosting Shop With a Warrior, which took place on Saturday morning, December 13.

The purpose of the program is to provide gifts for families who cannot do so themselves. North Cobb manages to help by bringing together 115 groups of students, which consist of three to four students per group. A child is assigned to each group and taken to Walmart to spend the one hundred dollars raised by the group members. Kids are given lists for their families and allowed to buy at least one gift for themselves.

Mr. Cogbill served as the Shop With a Warrior bus driver and delighted kids with his off-key singing.

Chris Degirolamo
Mr. Cogbill served as the Shop With a Warrior bus driver and delighted kids with his off-key singing.

“Shop With A Warrior is the best school community service project I have seen. It is easy to see what the young kids get from this experience, but our North Cobb students leave the event with a true understanding of the importance of giving back to those in need,” Principal Dr. Page said.

To start the morning, groups met and signed in to receive their event shirts and nametags. Some participants had stickers on their tags to let photographers know that their parents or guardians have elected to not have their picture taken. Shortly after, the group leader walked to the media center to pick up their child and introduce themselves to the kid’s parent. The group leader then introduced the child to the group that will soon have a huge impact on their holiday season. Soon after, they loaded onto the bus, not expecting nearly the amount of fun that came with it.

“The bestest part about the bus was the man that kept singing songs with us. Rudolph is my favorite because my mom always sings it with me when we watch the movie,” a young Warrior said. The child’s parent agreed to the use of the quote without his name.

The passengers aboard the “Spirit Bus,” as many of us called it, jammed to our favorite holiday songs on the radio while kids, students, and even bus driver and teacher Adam Cogbill cheerfully sang along.

North Cobb’s fine arts program made the experience three times more enjoyable. Upon arrival, little Warriors’ faces lit up when they heard the spectacular North Cobb marching band lined up at door, proudly blasting spirited tunes.

Every time a new bus unloaded passengers, the band began playing more Christmas themed music. The pleasant hums of the chorus peacefully echoed throughout Walmart were mixed with distant viola and cello sounds from the Orchestra program as shoppers franticly shopped for items on the given lists. Some lists contained items like clothes, appliances and pet accessories, but the majority of the people there speed-walked their straight to the toy section to score the hottest new action figure, doll, or game.

Once shoppers checked their list and checked it far more than twice to make sure nobody would be disappointed, it was time to pay for the items. Because the expenses of running SWAW total to around $18,000, students who participated had to raise one hundred dollars as a group. That $100 was put on a Walmart card and scanned at the register to purchase the gifts.

While walking out the exit door, kids were shocked to see that the real Santa Claus was there just to see them!

Choosing the best sugar cookie to decorate is a tough decision.

Chris Degirolamo
Choosing the best sugar cookie to decorate is a tough decision.

Santa informed the little Warriors that he couldn’t wrap all the gifts himself so he would need their help to neatly prepare the presents for the big day. The sounds of wrapping paper ripping and kids laughing flooded the cafeteria. The frantic pacing of people going from table to table to get boxes, bows, ribbons, paper, and nametags began to look like a busy New York City block. Gifts were beautifully wrapped before everyone pranced to the Freshman Academy cafeteria to wind down and enjoy a snack. Everybody had the option to eat pizza and decorate their own Christmas cookie.

Jaylin Johnson enjoyed the cookie decorating part of the day.

Chris Degirolamo
Jaylin Johnson enjoyed the cookie decorating part of the day.

After “the feast,” as one child described it, the time came to return to their families. Tears rushed down some truly grateful moms’ eyes due to the overwhelming happiness of their children and how far $100 went for their Christmas shopping. A lot of families requested pictures with their children and the group members who graciously helped them this holiday season.

“Shop With a Warrior was such a great experience. It was so great to be able to make a difference in the life of a child especially since we are young ourselves. The best part was when we were returning the child to her parents and they gave us a big hug and told us how thankful they were for our help. It was a good way to start off the holiday season,” senior Christina Matacotta said.

Shop With a Warrior volunteers helped students wrap their gifts for their families to have a true Christmas surprise when they got to open them.

Chris Degirolamo
Shop With a Warrior volunteers helped students wrap their gifts for their families to have a true Christmas surprise when they got to open them.

Shopwithawarrior (1)