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Former St. Ville Student Helps Bring Holiday Cheer to Her Old School

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Makeisha Barnes with just some of the new toys that were given to students at St. Ville Elementary.

The spirit of the holiday season visited St. Ville Elementary recently, but it didn’t make the trip via reindeer and sleigh. It came in the form of a U-Haul truck and some very special visitors.

“When she came with a U-Haul truck I was like ‘oh my goodness,'” said a very grateful St. Ville Elementary Principal Terrah Averette-Harrison.

Averette-Harrison is referring to former St. Ville student and Higgins High alum Makeisha Barnes. The Jefferson Parish Public School System product, who is now president of the non-profit organization iBarnes, adopted her old school for a special toy giveaway. Partnering with Toys for Tots, iBarnes produces red carpet toy distribution events for children and families in need. Barnes adopts a school every year (she adopted two this year), and wanted to give back to St. Ville. After her crew finished setting up Friday’s event, the St. Ville cafeteria looked more like a toy store.

“Just seeing their faces when they walked in, it’s overwhelming,” said Barnes.

23207599454_a693c9a67e_zEvery student at St. Ville Elementary got to select two new toys, then enjoy cookies and juice. Toys for Tots and the Marines provided many of the toys, Toys R Us provided bags and toys, Pepsi provided the drinks, and private sponsors helped provide other needs. The students, many wearing pajamas for that day’s theme, were overwhelmed with excitement as Marines and staff members helped them select toys. Many of the adults were overwhelmed with emotion, thinking of what this day meant for some children.

“We have a few kids here that this may be the only toy they get this holiday season,” said Averette-Harrison. “I had to step out just to gather myself. A couple of teachers, when they came in and saw it, had to step away just to catch their breath.”

More touching moments followed when students began selecting gifts.  Some chose presents for a sibling or other special family member.

“You have some kids that are getting something for their parents,” said Barnes. “I think that is so sweet that they are looking out for their parents.”23809552156_945368e44e_z

“That just shows me the kind of kids we have here,” said Averette-Harrison. “They have very big hearts.”

Friday’s event also offered more proof of the bond St. Ville Elementary shares with its alumni and community.

“It’s this close-knit family, connected community,” said Averette-Harrison. “Many of them grew up in Old Harvey and they remember their feelings of Bonella St. Ville being principal. So many people care for the students in this community. They will sit on their porch and make sure they cross the street safely, make sure they get home safely. This community is close-knit.”