Santa Delivers to West Ward

A local business brought toys to every child at West Ward.
By: Todd Martin
In a season of generous giving, one act of kindness this week filled an entire school.
A local real estate company determined to give back to the community, delivered Wednesday 500 gift-wrapped toys to West Ward Elementary School in Killeen. The display of joy at times resembled a fairytale.
But it was real.
A group of 30 employees and vendor partners associated with the Salas Team Realtors, including owner operators Luis and Shelly Salas, pulled up to the school in a delivery truck and unloaded the gifts.
It was enough toys for every child at West Ward, including plenty of extras for those new to the school or absent that day.
The painstakingly organized distribution effort, like something out of the North Pole, sent teams of people in four groups, each with one dressed in red Santa suit, to every classroom at the school. They even stocked the teacher workroom with coffee and doughnuts.
“We love this,” said Shelly Salas. “We did part of the school last year and this year our goal was the entire school. It was fabulous. It is just so humbling and gratifying.”
At each classroom, groups of guests entered, wished students a happy holiday and introduced a special guest, who entered the class with bulging bag of gifts.
Next, Santa or an elf named each student and they all received a wrapped present with their name attached. Then, they opened the packages to find brand, new, name-brand items and their thrills were palpable.
“It’s amazing,” said first-grade teacher Sara Everett, wiping tears from her eyes as her students came to her to show off their new toys.
Salas Team Director of Operations Missy LaRosee said the company set out last year to bring gifts to every first-grader at West Ward, but donations were so generous, they delivered to first and second grade.
“One of our core values is giving back to the community,” she said. “We know we have schools with need and we picked West Ward.”
Last year after delivering gifts and receiving thank-you notes, the real estate company employees wanted to do more. “We were so moved by the welcome we received and the response,” she said.
Toy drive organizers expanded their goal to the whole school and called on vendors. “We hope to do even more in the future,” LaRosee said. “We do it to give back. It’s about spreading light and joy to others.”
“It was amazing,” kindergarten teacher Suzanne Nichols said. “They were such nice, beautiful gifts and I loved that they had every student’s name on it. It was personalized. The look on their faces was the best.”
“It was a wonderfully generous act of kindness,” Principal Maureen Adams said. “This gave our children something to smile about at Christmastime. We have students who won’t get what some other children receive. This is so special for everyone.”
Heartfelt shows of generosity flowed across the Killeen school district as the start of the two-week holiday break approached.
At Clifton Park Elementary School, Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 9191 delivered two large bags of toys. At Nolanville Elementary School, the Harker Heights Park and Recreation Department delivered school supplies to students. Friday is the last day of school for the semester.