Students from two McDowell elementary schools joined together to give their Christmas love for local foster children.

During this holiday season, fourth-grade students from P.G. and Old Fort elementary schools worked together in a joint effort to send stockings to children in foster care at McDowell’s Department of Social Services, which they delivered on Wednesday.

“We had some kids several years ago that wanted to do something, and they had foster kids as classmates that told us some of the things about their lives,” said Lynn Freeman, a fourth-grade teacher at P.G. Elementary. “And so we decided, ‘What can we do to help and change the community?’ and this is what they decided to do, and we’ve just kept the tradition.”

According to Freeman, students at both schools sent letters home to inform parents and guardians about the project, allowing them to spread the word to other members of the community.

“We’ve heard people saying how families have gotten together and bought for these kids, and it just meant so much to them and collaborate on this together as part of their own family,” said Freeman.

This occasion marked P.G.’s fourth year in their stocking run, as well as Old Fort’s first.

“We became sister schools with P.G. Elementary in August, just as a way for our teachers to work together for staff development, and that kind of led into our students partnering together”, said Old Fort Elementary Principal Jill Ward. “Mrs. Freeman, who used to teach at Old Fort, mentioned this project during one of our sister school meetings and it blossomed into this activity.”

Far exceeding their goal of 130, the students were able to provide 173 stockings for DSS’ foster care children.

As DSS members arrived at P.G. Elementary and began loading the stockings into their van with the help of the students, DSS Foster Care Supervisor Becky Burleson spoke to the schools’ efforts.

“It was a blessing. It’ll really help the foster children,” said Burleson.

According to Burleson, there are currently 115 children in McDowell reported in foster care, with several others in kinship placement.

For more information on McDowell County Foster Care Services or how to contribute, visit

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