In 1998, Stephanie Shachmut, a teacher at St. Joseph High School, encouraged students in her class to buy Christmas presents for needy children in Faulkner County.
Through money from the Robert and Mary Margaret Taylor Foundation, which supports evangelization efforts along with individual student contributions, the group was able to do just that.
"Mrs. Shachmut passed away in 2012, but her successor, Theresa Lutes keeps this drive alive with her [seventh, ninth and 11th] grade classes," according to a news release from the school.
The release stated that Lutes calls her students "Stephanie’s Angels," and this year, the Department of Child and Family Services provided Lutes a list of eight young boys in Faulkner County between the ages of 1-5, who are living in foster care.
Their wish lists included clothing, books, learning games, bath toys and more.
Lutes’s students and members of St. Joseph’s boys basketball team went shopping for the gifts with funds from that same grant source and what money they could personally add.
The gifts were picked up at the school for delivery on Dec. 14 by Els Strickland, who worked with Shachmut when her effort started nearly two decades ago, and has also been a longtime representative of the Children’s Advocacy Alliance of North Central Arkansas.