Tigers for Tots serve Fort Deposit students

Published 6:22 pm Friday, January 5, 2024

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In an effort to spread Christmas cheer around “the 45,” 20 students at The Calhoun School collected presents and hosted a toy party on Dec. 15 for a few Fort Deposit Elementary students.

The effort, led by Lowndes County Athletic Director Nickles Rankins, was a voluntary initiative aimed at providing a Merry Christmas for students from the high school’s “feeder” elementary school, children whose families needed a helping hand during the holiday season.

“I have toy drives in Montgomery every year through my nonprofit organization, Young Men on a Mission,” Rankins said. “I wanted to do something in Lowndes County too.”

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Principal LaTonya Love said the Calhoun students’ generosity served to reinforce the love she and her faculty work to instill in the children’s hearts.

“Love is what love does,” Love said. “This act of kindness shows our students we love and care about their academics as well as physical and socioeconomic state of being. At our school our motto is, “every day is an opportunity to shine.”

The idea for Tigers for Tots was born out of that desire. Rankins invited Fort Deposit Elementary Principal LaTonya Love to select students to receive gifts. Then, Rankins recruited Calhoun students willing to help, asking who would like to be a part of giving back to the community.

In response, 20 Tigers said, “Yes, we want to do it Coach.”

Calhoun students who helped with the project were Katelynn Hardy, Madison Hardy, Tyrese Hicks, Ashton Hobdy, Carndre Patterson, Quaniya Goldsmith, Deshanna Mason, Janiya Russell, Jamerion Wilson, Ke’Asia Thompson, Sequoia McMeans, Zakiyah McPherson, Samaya Sellers, Randall Caldwell, Haigler Johnson, I’Kiarreous Lewis, Tynesha Young, and Javorious McCall. 

According to Rankins, the high schoolers volunteered their time to plan and implement a toy party and bought gifts for 12 Fort Deposit children.

“All the students [who volunteered] bought gifts,” Rankins said. “And we had a party to show the children a great time and it kicked off the holiday spirit.

“It was amazing. I really loved seeing the reactions of some of the high school students. When they gave the children their gifts, some of them started crying. That’s what this is all about, for the students to have that joy in their hearts and to see that the children really appreciated it.”