Christmas came early for two-dozen children on Tuesday morning, and Polk State’s Kathy Bucklew was right there, doing her part to make their dreams come true.
For the past two years, Bucklew and her husband, Bill, have dressed up as Mrs. Claus and Santa and handed out toys to needy children selected by the Polk County School Board’s Information Systems & Technology Division.
Kathy Bucklew is Polk State’s director of student enrollment services and registrar. Bill Bucklew works as a senior online training coordinator for the Information Systems and Technology Division.
Though the Bucklews joined the effort two years ago, Division employees have been raising funds to benefit children during the holidays for more than 18 years.
On Tuesday, kids from the Head Start program at Lakeland’s Oscar J. Pope Elementary School gathered at Bartow’s Civic Center. After the children heard Twas the Night Before Christmas, the Bucklews entered the room on perfect sleigh-bell cue.
Excited gasps, giggles and whoops filled the air.
Then, for the next half hour, the Bucklews called each student to the front of the room and handed them their gifts.
Once every child had a present in hand, it was unwrapping time. The Bucklews strolled around the room, watching as the kids reveled in the joy of new tea sets, building blocks, and toy fire trucks.
Though the kids may have received the tangible gifts, Kathy said she’s the one who really benefits.
“I feel full of hope for the future in seeing all my future Polk State students,” she said.
“We love the children and want to bless them.”