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Teens make presents for kids

by Merrie Leininger, Staff Writer

The experience of giving to needy children has changed the way these teen-agers view Christmas.

“My own two daughters have been saying this is the best Christmas. It feels so good. They haven’t had that opportunity to give to others for a while,” said Tammy Holdeman, whose daughter, Katy, 13, decided to expand a small family project to the Young Women’s Group at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Katy said she had a half-finished sewing project that she decided to complete and donate to a little girl who would love a pretty green dress.

“I decided to make it bigger and get all the girls involved and then it just got bigger and bigger,” Katy said.

The girls group spent the night at the Holdeman’s Ruhenstroth home and made quilts, pillows, stuffed animals, toy blocks, wooden dolls and wooden photo frames shaped like animals. When the girls ran out of ideas of things little boys would like, they used $90 from the group’s activity fund to buy balls and cars.

Tammy Holdeman then suggested they donate the items to the children under the Court Appointed Special Advocate program, of which Holdeman is a volunteer. The volunteers act as a child’s voice during divorce and custody proceedings.

Holdeman said she obtained names and ages of five girls and five boys who have special needs this Christmas. Many of the children are in foster care because their parents are in jail or they are unable to take care of them.

“Some have disabilities their parents can’t really deal with. One boy just lost his mom and is living with his grandma,” Holdeman said. “It is a great chance for the girls to serve that was fun. It turned out really great. Some of them found talents they didn’t know they had and found out about themselves.”

Holdeman said the girls were also charged with learning a new skill – they couldn’t ask an adult to do the work for them.

However, even one of the adult leaders learned a new skill. Becky Johnson said she was eager to help when she heard about Katy’s idea.

“This has been a great activity. Katy is great to think about other people. When she said she wanted to do this, I just jumped right in because you don’t hear this from a lot of young people,” Johnson said. She likes to paint and brought in paints to let the girls use for the wooden blocks and picture frames. Then she decided to make something herself.

On her very first sewing attempt, she made a stuffed dog that looks like it was made by a professional.

“I knew some kid would want it and I wanted to help, too,” Johnson said.

Holdeman’s younger daughter, Jenny, 12, also was involved.

“I think it makes (Christmas) really more special because you’re also helping other people to have a good Christmas,” Jenny said.

Alexa Marangi, 14, of Gardnerville said she enjoyed making things for the children.

“It made me feel like I was stepping outside of myself and instead of receiving, I was giving to others,” Alexa said.

Jaki Reeves, 12, of Gardnerville said she enjoyed painting the gifts.

“I think it was fun and it’s nice to help out. I’ve never done this before and it really makes me think about how I’m really lucky,” Jaki said.

Emily Pumphrey, 13, of Gardnerville said she wished she could do more.

“I helped with the blue blanket and I made some of the blocks. I think it is a good idea because I feel sorry for the little kids who don’t have a very good life. I just think it’s really sad. If I had money, I would give it to them because little kids who don’t have anything give up all hope,” Emily said.