The reading room at San Miguel School in Washington, D.C., was transformed into Santa’s workshop Dec. 13, when the school hosted its annual Christmas boutique for students to shop for presents for their parents.

Sponsored by the Kennedy Guild of the Christ Child Society, the boutique has been held at the all-boys middle school for more than five years. The students – many of whom come from low-income families – were able to select gift items at no charge to them that they could then give their loved ones on Christmas.

The brand new gift items were donated by the Christ Child Society, a Catholic charitable organization dedicated to serving children in need in the metropolitan Washington area.

“It is so beautiful to see how thoughtful they (the students) are as they pick out the gifts,” said volunteer Cherie Long. “These boys are so sweet and they are so grateful.”

An independent Catholic school for boys in the sixth through eighth grades, San Miguel is sponsored by the De La Salle Christian Brothers and is part of a nationwide network of schools across the nation exclusively serving disadvantaged, at-risk students.

“What the Christ Child Society has been doing here for years is a very welcome tradition,” said Maureen Appel, president of San Miguel School. “The boys, and the staff, couldn’t wait for this day to come.”

Jill Casasola, a Christ Child Society volunteer, said that items made available to students are determined by their popularity in years past. “Jewelry and gadgets are always popular,” she said. She added that in recent years, items with a Redskin logo “are not as popular as before,” while hats with the Washington Nationals logo are among the popular items the boys selected for their fathers.

In addition to jewelry and sports logo hats, the students had a wide variety of items to choose from, including wallets, scarves, gloves, sunglasses, ties and other items.

“What they (Christ Child Society volunteers and donors) do makes me feel good beyond words,” Appel said. “Their generosity helps us in our mission to break the cycle of poverty through education.” 

Among the early shoppers were seventh-graders Brayan Canales and Byron Guzman. 

Brayan said he chose his gifts quickly because “I know what my mom likes, and I got something for my dad who works a lot and has to wake up while it is still dark.” Byron chose equally thoughtful gifts for his parents and said, “I am just thankful for these ladies (of the Christ Child Society) and grateful they helped us get presents for our parents.”

After the students selected their presents, volunteers helped them wrap them in tissue paper and decorate gift bags to place them in. After a quick snack of donuts and juice to round out the venture, students headed back to class.

Christ Child Society volunteers will return to the school in February when they sponsor a workshop where the boys can make cards for the moms for St. Valentine’s Day.