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Originally published: 2012-12-17 16:39:47
Last modified: 2012-12-17 16:39:47

Operation Banner Elves

Matthew Hundley / (

A Christmas miracle is taking place in Banner Elk. Students in Banner Elk Elementary School’s Christmas program have taken it upon themselves to initiate a collection campaign to give fellow students in need and their families the Christmas they deserve. Operation Banner Elves – devised, planned and named by the students – is designed to raise not only money, but a collection of clothing, toys and day-to-day essentials to ensure that students in need have everything they need to celebrate the holidays.

“It came from the hearts of the children,” said BES Principal Debra Wilcox. “It is truly a student-driven effort.”

Burlene Franklin, a parent who has been assisting the students with the project, explained that the children have been working hard to bring in holiday necessities for their classmates, speaking at churches, restaurants and the Christmas tree-lighting ceremony during Banner Elk’s Christmas celebration to spread the word and garner support.

“It has changed these kids’ perspective on how they look at the holidays,” said Franklin, noting that, at age 9 or 10, young people do not realize that all families are not like their own families; that some of their classmates do not get to eat outside of school. Franklin remembered that at one point, after a successful fundraising effort at a local restaurant, one student reflected, saying “The best gift I could ever get is the feeling I have right now.”

“The parents did not ask for anything extravagant,” Franklin said, remembering requests for socks, winter clothing and shoes. In addition, however, the students wanted to ensure that each of their classmates also received a toy and some candy for the holidays.

Franklin noted that the students requested that the delivery of the donated items remain anonymous and low key.

“I love the fact that they don’t want to make a big deal about giving,” Franklin said.

To contribute to Operation Banner Elves and the students’ effort to make the holidays merry for every BES student, contact Banner Elk Elementary School. In addition, any cash donations, new or gently used items can be donated at Banner Elk Elementary.