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WHS Students Serve as Secret Santa

Waller High School Students Waller High School (WHS) students partnered with ExxonMobil to aide Salvation Army in brightening the families in the Houston and Greater-Houston area. A total of 107 students and 14 staff members traveled to Houston to help with the organization’s Angel Tree Program. The program provides in-need families with gifts during the holidays. WHS students acted as secret santas by shopping through the Salvation Army’s inventory of toys to select gifts for individual children or families. Students chose two large items and two stocking stuffers from a wishlist provided for each child or family.

“I love helping with this program because it’s not about you,” WHS Teacher Billie Dio said. “This helps bring people together to serve the community.”

WHS students spend an entire day volunteering for the program and work alongside retired Exxon employees. Many retirees look forward to spending the day with students.

“The retired employees wait to volunteer on the days the school is helping because they love to spend time with the students,” Dio said. “Some don’t have family and they want to spend time with the younger generation and make connections.”

This is the second year WHS students have volunteered with the Salvation Army. The idea was introduced by Dio, who has participated in the Secret Santa Workshop for eight years on her own. Last year, Dio took 96 students from her classes, Texas Association of Future Educators (TAFE), and AFJROTC. This year, she recruited students from Education, Professional Communication, Culinary, AFJROTC, and Teen Leadership classes as well as, Student Council, Tennis, and TAFE. This was the largest school group and largest group to ever volunteer for the Houston Salvation Army.

Along with volunteering, each of Dio’s students purchased five, one-dollar gifts to donate to the program.
ExxonMobil took the combined retail value of all the gifts students donated, along with the total number of hours the school volunteered and doubled the number to come up with a dollar amount they would donate to the Salvation Army on WHS’ behalf. This year, Exxon generously donated $6,900.