CRESTVIEW — Thirteen Davidson Middle School families have Christmas gifts and household essentials following the fifth annual Panther Pay It Forward.
Volunteers, including students and faculty members, sorted the food and clothing the week of Dec. 16, and set presents for families to pick up the next day, according to Tim Sexton, a DMS robotics program instructor.
"No one knows who gets to come the next day (to receive help), so no one knows the appreciation we see on the families' faces or the tears of gratitude," he said. "(Volunteers) don't get the hugs of joy, but they know they helped out one of their own."
The effort began about five years ago, according to Sexton.
"I asked then principal Beth Walthall if there is something we could do for our students, our Panthers," he said. "Along with teaching civics to students that year, where we discussed community service, it all came together from there. I got together with Jamie Parker, the guidance counselor, who felt compelled to help out, too."
The school identifies struggling families, sends wish list letters that needy households can send back, and gives wish lists to teachers who adopt a family to help.
"We give out (a) non-perishable list to all students through the social studies classes to gather food, bathroom items and paper products," Sexton said. "We then get donations through some community people."
The event has grown since it began.
"We started with maybe four families in need, five years ago, to 13 this year," Sexton said.