Oklahoma teacher surprised with award after starting community program

ELGIN, Okla. - Christmas may be over, but for middle school students in one Oklahoma town, the meaning of the season will be with them long after the holidays.

They say it is better to give than to receive. Sometimes that might not always be easy for children to understand, but you won’t see that at Elgin Middle School.

"I've been watching them give coats to other kids,” Susan O’Hara said. “Other kids have been making the wishes for each other - coats, shoes, a dinner out with their family."

Small things, but the meaning and the lessons they teach are bigger than any material gift. It is part of a program called Winter Wishes. Melissa Evon is the student council adviser, but the program she has started is teaching lessons far beyond school years.

"She's just really brought the whole community together to make this happen,” O’Hara said. "They've been granting wishes all week long, but they've been working on this program since July of this year to raise funds for it. So this is the end of a magical week, and we will surprise Mrs. Evon for doing all of the hard work to make this week come true."

O’Hara nominated Mrs. Evon, and with the help of First Fidelity Bank, NewsChannel 4 paid it forward to Mrs. Evon.

There are about 700 students inside the school gymnasium for their annual Christmas program, but it is about to be interrupted, and that part of the morning is not on Mrs. Evon’s program agenda.

"Mrs. Evon should be up on the stage somewhere making everything behind the scenes get ready to happen,” O’Hara said.

After locating Mrs. Evon, O'Hara had a surprise for her.

 

“For all of the hard work that you've put into the Winter Wishes program, we'd like to pay it forward with 400 dollars from KFOR,” O’Hara said.

"That's amazing. Thank you. Thank you all so much,” Mrs. Evon said. "Every kid made a wish for another kid and for themselves, and we started with a budget of a thousand dollars.”

And it’s grown to more than eight thousand dollars, but it’s impact more than money can buy.