Independence Academy has celebrated Christmas with the 250 residents at Pleasant Heights since 2001. The low-income housing facility has been apart of Independence Academy’s Service Learning program since the beginning. The partnership has brought smiles to both students and residents for almost a decade.

Independence Academy has celebrated Christmas with the 250 residents at Pleasant Heights since 2001. The low-income housing facility has been apart of Independence Academy’s Service Learning program since the beginning. The partnership has brought smiles to both students and residents for almost a decade.

Now, nine years later, the project has blossomed into something amazing. Santa Clause and his eight, not so tiny, reindeer will parade their way from Independence Academy to Pleasant Heights Friday, Dec. 11 at 12:15 p.m.; showing off their Harley-Davidsons along with their elf helpers.

Pleasant Heights is a housing facility for the elderly and disabled. In the past a local company provided the gifts for the 250 residents, but it went out of business and was no longer able to help; this meant many of the residents would have no Christmas gifts. Many of them have very little family, while some of them no family at all.

That’s where we come in. Here at Independence Academy we start with a dream, a wish and 250 empty bags. Each bag is packed with donations from IA and the Independence community.

Suggestions for items to fill the bags are:

Bags of candy.

Sock and slippers.

Stocking caps, gloves, and winter scarves.

Writing utensils such as pens, pencils, stationary, and stamps.

Small decorative items that are able to fit in grocery bags such as picture frames, Christmas decorations, calendars, wall hangings, vases, plaques, figurines, or small lamps.

Lotion, shampoo, and soap.

Coffee mugs.

Math teacher, Staci Humphreys says, “This will be my fifth year at Pleasant Heights. Pleasant Heights to me, means being apart of an extended family and reminds me what's really important in life.”

Science teacher, Tim Mead, along with his Harley-Davidson buddies, will dress traditionally as Santa and his reindeer, to lead the parade. Tim says, “My first year was in 2002. Probably my best memory was the smiles on the students and residents faces. I take that memory with me every year.”

All of the teachers and students from Independence Academy HS will follow in two big yellow buses. We become the sleigh filled with gifts for all residents. Pleasant Heights is at 210 S. Pleasant St.

Monetary donations are appreciated as well to be able to purchase any other items needed to fill the bags. Your donations/gifts will put a smile on faces all around Pleasant Heights. Checks can be made out to Independence Academy High School and designated for Pleasant Heights Christmas project.

Donations can be mailed or dropped off at Independence Academy, 600 W. Mechanic. We will be happy to pick up donations as well. Contact Angela Weatherford at angelaweatherford@indep.k12.mo.us  or call 521-5505.