Ionia, Mich. – There were smiles and there were tears.
It was a holiday party to remember at Boyce Elementary School in Ionia.
“There is good in the world and this is proof,” said Principal Stacey Bovee.
On Thursday, thousands of dollars worth of toys were anonymously donated to the school district – someone paid it forward big time.
“Now I know what Santa feels like, and all his elves,” Bovee smiles.
It started out as a normal day for the Wildcats, until the principal learned of a big Christmas surprise coming her way.
“There was a trailer full (of toys) and we were told to go to the bus barn and start bagging up toys.”
Hundreds of toys were spread out in the hallway to create the perfect Christmas buffet.
“We had to set this up in one hour,” Bovee said.
Later, in between cookie eating, and craft making during the classroom parties, each kid picked out something special to take home.
“There was a whole bunch of presents there,” says Charley Frost, showing off his action figure that lights up. His brother Adam got a remote controlled vehicle – with batteries – and didn’t hesitate to show us how it works.
But amongst the happy chaos and gifts, the true meaning of the season sinks in.
“(The anonymous donor) spent their money and their time to do (this),” explains fifth-grader Sarah Rooks. “I really liked it, because everybody in the school could have presents.”
Her classmate, Carley Fulcher, agrees.
“I thought that was very nice of the people and that’s exactly what Christmas is all about.”
Turns out, more than one thousand kids at all five elementary schools in the district were good this year; the generous Secret Santa brought enough toys for them, and even some kids in the middle and high schools.
Several students at Boyce started paying it forward right away.
“Kids were shopping for their brother and sisters, they were taking not only toys for them, but they were taking for (needy) kids who they knew could use them,” Bovee says.
Holding back tears, she shares a message for the responsible party.
“Thank you, you have made Christmas so much fun and just so happy for so many kids.”
The remaining toys will be donated to local churches and given to families in need this season.