Harvard Park Elementary students receive gifts

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill (WAND)- Santa made a special visit to children at Harvard Park Elementary school in Springfield.

Santa brought with him employees from Horace Mann to help pass out stockings filled with presents for each student at the school. While the presents were nice, for some students it was a visit from Santa himself that had them jumping for joy. 

"It was exciting because I never saw Santa before." said Legynd Coates, a first grader at the school. 

The stockings each had a Harvard Park t-shirt and candy canes for the children, all paid for entirely by the employees at Horace Mann. 

"It's one of the most rewarding days for a lot of us work wise at Horace Mann, and that's because of the smiles on their faces and they are surprised and they have no idea why they were here until they open the stockings, it's a lot of fun." said Paul Wappel, AVP of Community Relations at Horace Mann. 

"This is just one more thing that they can look at and experience that's a positive thing. That they they know that not only do we care about them but there are people and companies in the community that also care about them." said James Hayes, Principal at Harvard Park Elementary. 

For some students at the school this Christmas experience may be one of the only ones they will have this year. 

"For some of these kids, this may be one of the few gifts that they get during the holiday season. It might be hard for a lot of us to imagine that's the reality and that's how it is for some, and if we helped in some small way that makes us feel really, really food." said Wappel. 

"A lot of things that you and I might take for granted, such as something as simple as receiving a stocking, or seeing Santa Claus, or even knowing who Santa Claus is, isn't something they experience sometimes ever. For them to get that today is just one more thing they can look at and remember forever." said Principal Hayes. 

While Legynd was excited to see Santa and get the presents, the day reminded him of one other special person in his life. "It made me think of my mom, I love my mom" he said when asked what he thought of the day. 

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