The room at B Street Community Center was full of laughter and lots of pretty presents.
Unit Two of the Retired Teachers Association of Polk County held their annual Christmas Gift Give-away at B Street Center in Lake Wales on Monday morning.
The event is an annual thing, and according to retired teacher Gladys Howell, it’s been going on about 15 years, all over the county.
“They alternate years as to which city,” she notes, and this year was Lake Wales’ turn.
They also go to Haines City, Bartow, Winter Haven, she said.
There were several teachers at the event, including Gladys Howell, Ethel Austin, Rosa Henderson, Kathelia Turner and Janice Snell.
Others the group wanted to mention were Rosemary Kling, Carole Emery, Barbara Edwards, Freddie Robinson, Mildred Jones, Pauline Burch and Gloria Hunt.
At the front of the room was a pile of gifts, wrapped colorfully and adorned with bows.
Topping that was a table piled high with food for the families who were selected for the event.
Kathelia Turner, also a retired teacher, notes that what the teachers love about the event is giving to the children.
“We know that we are giving to needy families, children in need. For example, these kids over here, their mother just passed away, and that girl’s their aunt, that is there,” she said.
“The grandmother passed away earlier and she was a young person,” she said.
The family she speaks of consists of two boys and one girl, Daryn Knighton, 4, Tyrell Kingcade, 12, and Khalyse Knighton, 9. Their aunt, Sophia Daniels, sits nearby, and urges the children to smile for a photo.
Their mother passed away on Sept. 11, and this is their first Christmas without her.
“We’re just trying to make sure they have a good Christmas and keep their mind off it,” said Daniels.
“Sometimes when we are out at night, the little one (Daryn), sees a bright evening star, and says ‘I see my mom. There she is,’” said Daniels.
The teachers continue to pass out gifts.
And a room full of children smile.
So do the teachers.