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Skaneateles kids give the gift of Christmas

When students and staff at State Street Elementary School decorated miniature Christmas trees this season, they didn't know whose lives they might brighten. But they did know that it was fun to come up with a theme for the tree decorations, and that when all 21 two-foot trees were displayed together they were a beautiful and fun sight to see.

After everyone had a chance to view the display, the trees were delivered to individuals and to groups whose holidays could be brightened by such a gift. Most students and staff had no idea exactly where their creative trees ended up.

Students in Tami Rigling's third grade class received a surprise in the mail about their tree, which they created with the theme of snowflakes.

An elderly couple sent a card that said "We know a lot about the best things in life because we have one of them --- We have you as a friend," said Rigling. On the inside of the card, a hand written note said "Thank you so much for the beautiful Christmas tree. We are both 90 years old and appreciate gifts. God Bless You. - Mr. and Mrs. Robert Howell."

The students were thrilled, said Rigling. "The students were very excited to hear back from the family and quite proud to be doing something so nice. In fact we are going to be sending them a surprise batch of Christmas cards today," she said.

The snowflake tree included snowflakes in blue and white. "On each snowflake, the students wrote a holiday message," said Rigling. Examples include: "We wish you a Merry Christmas" "Have a Holly Jolly Christmas" and "We hope your dreams come true."

Other themes, or mini decorations, included candy, buttons, cookie cutters, and mini student-decorated globe ornaments. Special area teachers also participated with creative trees. The gym teachers, for example, used key chains with all different kinds of athletic balls attached to make a sports themed tree.

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