Arlington High School DECA students Amari Garrissey (left) and Amelia Hale are Santa’s Helpers volunteering outside the Arlington Safeway store to collect food, toys and donations for families in need during the holidays.

Arlington High School DECA students Amari Garrissey (left) and Amelia Hale are Santa’s Helpers volunteering outside the Arlington Safeway store to collect food, toys and donations for families in need during the holidays.

AHS’ DECA Club students are Santa’s Helpers keeping spirits bright for families in need

ARLINGTON – Thanks to the hard work of Santa’s Helpers, dozens of kids in need and their families in Arlington will have a happier Christmas and an extra hand to get them through tough times during the holidays.

This year, Arlington High School DECA students are carrying forward a tradition for the 24th year to collect food and monetary donations to help local families, in partnership with the Arlington Community Food Bank.

“We typically adopt 30 to 35 families each year sometimes more depending on how well our food drive and donations drive is going,” said Alicia Amezcua, Arlington High School’s DECA vice president of Marketing.

Each family received three to four weeks of food collected from Arlington Safeway and the Smokey Point Walmart. The school’s marketing and business students collect food and donations at the doors, and greet people with a shopping list of needed non-perishable food and grocery items.

Santa’s Helpers started their food and toy drive Nov. 16; it wraps up on Dec. 14.

So far, the students have collected over 14,000 pounds of food and grocery items, and about $4,000 in donations for necessities and Christmas gifts for the families.

People can help by buying food and grocery items or donating money at Safeway and Walmart, typically between 3-8 p.m. Monday through Friday, and on some weekends.

Amezcua said DECA students also sponsor a three-day Hot Chocolate Challenge at the high school during mornings and lunches. Each participating group looks to raise money for their adopted families (from Arlington Food Bank) and makes and sells their hot chocolate to other students.

Amezcua said the students look forward to helping families this time of year through Santa’s Helpers, and it’s rewarding to be able to give back to the community.

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