BILLINGS - All students at McKinley Elementary received an early Christmas gift at school Thursday as staff from Billings Clinic visited the school to put on their annual Santa's Workshop. Employees purchased and donated gifts for the event to over 300 students.
The toys were set up in the school's gymnasium at several tables where grades kindergarten through fifth had the chance to pick out their own gift. Each child also received a gift bag filled with a scarf, goodies, gift cards, and other necessities.
Marli Jinhustad is a first-grader at McKinley and was excited when she picked out a toy that she had been wanting.
"I just, I looked over here and there was Squish Mellos and I picked this one since look at its stomach and its tail," said Jinhustad. "It’s so fuzzy and soft!"
In assistance of the event were students from Skyview’s JV and Varsity boys' basketball teams. Zakai Owens is a junior on the team and enjoyed volunteering and helping the students pick out their gifts.
"It’s just a good environment for them to be in and it's fun to be around them. They have a good energy, good spirit," said Owens.
Owens also said that seeing the students' smiles and joy can be inspiring during the holiday season.
"It makes me feel good. Knowing that I come from a family that gets gifts I think that everyone should have an opportunity like this to have something," said Owens. "If one group or one environment can all come together and make something happen I think that’s all that matters."
The Mitten Tree Program is also done by the clinic and provides additional gifts for homeless or low-income students. Those students received those items before Santa's Workshop.
Billings Clinic has partnered with McKinley for over 15 years for the program and plans on continuing for many years to come.