Shown is an ornament that hangs on Minden High’s Angel Tree. Gifts are due to Mrs. Lee by Dec. 15.  Michelle Bates/Press-Herald
Shown is an ornament that hangs on Minden High’s Angel Tree. Gifts are due to Mrs. Lee by Dec. 15. Michelle Bates/Press-Herald

Students at Minden High School are giving back directly to their community through a program now in its fifth year.

Tiders for Tots, leadership teacher Angel Lee says, is a way for students to give back to the children in Minden who need it most – those who may need things and can’t afford them, children who might not otherwise receive a gift this Christmas.

“It’s a student council event that we hold about this time every year,” Lee said. “(We) contact the elementary principals at all the schools and ask them for a list of students who may not get anything for Christmas.”

A Christmas tree, or an “angel” tree, is filled with “ornaments,” each with the age, gender and school of a child in need. Students will then pick an “ornament” from the tree, buy a gift, wrap it and return it to Lee for distribution. Each gift purchased is between $5 and $20.

It has been a successful venture for the students; as of Friday, December 5, 57 “ornaments” had been taken from the tree. Lee said they have 78 kids on the list. The first year, the number of students was approximately 40 for which high school students purchased gifts.

“That year, we were able to do three gifts for each kid, but now that we’re starting to grow, we at least try to do two gifts for each child,” she said. “Gifts range from $5 to $20, but we’ve had some kids who have spent as much as $50 on one gift. So it’s really up to the student.”

The event is student council sponsored, which means it is strictly an outreach from Minden High students to those in need, Lee said, hence the name, “Tiders for Tots.”

Most of the gifts are toys, and they range from Barbie dolls for little girls to Nerf guns for the boys. While gifts range from a wide array of items, students try to get gifts that are age appropriate, Lee said.

New this year, is the addition of students from J.A. Phillips Middle School. Lee said the principal requested gifts for a few students at the school. The schools include Webster Pre-K, J.L. Jones, E.S. Richardson and J.E. Harper elementaries.

Junior Laura Frazier, vice president of the student council, along with senior Catty Frazier, student council president and junior Zack Dick, senator, all said it’s a good way to give back to the community.

“It’s a really good way to give back to the community, because we’re more fortunate, and it feels good to give back what we don’t need to those who are in need,” Laura Frazier said. “And it feels good to know that you’re making a difference. Some kids might not have any presents other than these.”

Dick said his ornament is for a little boy and he’s already purchased a gift. The Frazier sisters each got a little girl, and as of Friday, had not purchased gifts but had ideas.

Tiders for Tots was the brainchild of the student council from five years ago, and the students decided they wanted to host a toy drive for kids less fortunate. Because the U.S. Marines sponsored Toys for Tots is a much larger organization, and there was no guarantee the toys donated would go to local kids, they developed and modeled their idea from them, tailoring it to the Minden area.

“We wanted to focus on our schools, our city,” Lee said. “Toys for Tots covers a wider range, and we wanted to focus on the city of Minden.”

Any student with an ornament must deliver gifts to Mrs. Lee by Monday, Dec. 15.