A room at Ringgold High School looked like Santa’s workshop the afternoon of Dec. 13. Two dozen RHS elves worked with their teacher, Rosanne Hendricks, on a gift project that started the month before with thousands of paper turkey feathers.

"We partner with the Catoosa County Department of Family and Children Services to sponsor foster children for Christmas each year," Hendricks says of her students. "We’re buying for four children this year." The partnership is a decade old.

To raise money to buy gifts for the children, students hold a "Thank a Teacher Turkey Fundraiser." They sell paper turkey feathers, vying to ensure their teacher gets the most, so she or he can earn the title of "Biggest Turkey at Ringgold High School."

"The winning teacher gets a frozen turkey and a certificate of recognition, but every cent of the proceeds goes into a fund to purchase Christmas gifts for the foster children," says Hendricks. This year’s winner was Mrs. Ashley Holcomb.

The fundraising begins, appropriately, in November. Students and teachers cut out endless turkey feathers and sold them throughout the month for 25 cents each. "We raised $1400," says Hendricks, who teaches Early Childhood Education at the high school and is an advisor for Family, Career and Community Leaders of America students.

With their money raised, students went Christmas shopping at Walmart. The next step was wrapping the huge pile of toys and clothes. The hubbub of happy elves pulling gift wrap off cardboard tubes and eyeing it for size, snip, snip, snipping it with scissors and securing it with tape, ended with four large piles of presents and several students surveying them to make sure they looked even.

"Other groups in the school are also sponsoring foster children for Christmas," says Hendricks, "the National Honor Society, the Beta Club and the Tiger Band Color Guard. It’s a very personal way for students to reach out to their community and experience the joy of giving."