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Seniors Do Some Giving and Receive New Christmas Outlook

Times Staff Writer

Seniors at Pacifica High School in Garden Grove showed their holiday spirit this week by inviting more than 150 children to meet Santa Claus and open presents--oodles of them.

Linda Taormina said she and her partner gave their “adopted” child “a Cabbage Patch doll, makeup, snowman soap and a teddy bear. And don’t forget the purse and the cookies we made last night.”

Not to mention the backpack that Taormina and partner, Gina Garvin, gave to little Ana to hold all her other presents.

Pacifica High’s principal, Don Wise, said the seniors gave 760 gifts to 57 children from Mendenhall Special Education School and 100 children from Clinton Elementary School. Clinton was chosen because it is in a low-income neighborhood, senior class president Terry Campbell said.

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“A lot of the kids won’t have presents at home,” Campbell said Tuesday. “It (the Christmas gift project) made me think about someone else’s Christmas--instead of getting, getting, getting.”

Each team of high school students led their child-for-a-day to meet Santa Claus, who sat in the middle of the school’s multipurpose room. Children took turns sitting on Santa’s knee, and he gave each one a chocolate lollipop made by the high school’s cooking classes.

The seniors gave the youngsters their presents, played with them for a while, then escorted them--laden with gifts--to their waiting school buses.

“We did it last year, but this year is the first time we bused . . . the kids to our school,” said Campbell, who organized the party with Wise, the principal.

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Wise asked the school’s 370 seniors to buy two gifts each, then student partners were assigned to each child. The plan was for each child to receive four gifts. However, some students got carried away.

In fact, Taormina and Garvin were so excited about Ana, from Clinton Elementary, that they have invited her to Disneyland. Taormina said they asked permission from the Clinton principal, who is planning to call Ana’s mother to arrange the outing.

Heather Armstrong and her partner, Kenny Seagle, said they bought their adopted girl--Chi Sun, 7, from Mendenhall--three stuffed animals, a game, a watch and a Christmas stocking.

“I think it’s great for the kids from poor neighborhoods,” said Seagle, 17, of Garden Grove.

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Heather Thomason, 17, is hoping to visit her adopted boy, Frankie, at Mendenhall. She and her partner gave him a beach ball, a Mr. Potato Head, a toy garage and a stuffed bunny rabbit. “It’s so hard to understand someone who doesn’t have anything for Christmas,” Heather said.

Seventeen-year-old Daniele Petrick got a heart-warming present of sorts, herself. “As he was leaving, my little boy whispered in my ear, ‘Merry Christmas, I love you,’ ” she said.


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