A lesson in giving: Retired teacher provides gifts for Morgan students, siblings
By Katie Scarvey
GOLD HILL ó When Janice Evans participated in a church project to sponsor two children for Christmas seven years ago, she probably didn’t have any idea that it would turn into a year-round labor of love ó and that her garage would start to look like the loading platform for Santa’s sleigh.
This year, Janice has put together 127 Christmas bags for children at Morgan Elementary and their siblings, ranging in age from 18 months to 18 years old.
The bags include practical things, like coats, shoes, underwear, personal hygiene products, as well as toys. Each bag is personalized as much as possible for the child who will receive it.
Janice ó who began her 30-year teaching career at Morgan Elementary ó receives the names of children from Betsy Crowell, the Morgan Elementary guidance counselor, who also calls on Janice throughout the year when she notices specific needs.
“In October she starts calling me to get names of children,” Betsy says. “She has taken all the names I’ve given her.”
Janice’s garage is full ó her car has long since been displaced ó and in another outbuilding a trailer of gifts is packed and ready to go. The bags will be distributed Thursday at Gold Hill Wesleyan Church.
Evans’ family helps with the project, including her 12-year-old granddaughter Katelyn Shelton, a seventh-grader who lives in Denton.
Katelyn and her cousin, Linley Evans, a first-year Teaching Fellow at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, wanted to see their grandma get some public recognition for her project. Janice, however, would have been happy to maintain her low profile.
“I don’t do this for the recognition,” she says. “I just love doing it.”
Evans retired from school teaching in 1993. Katelyn says that she’s always heard about what a “great, caring teacher” her grandmother was.
“And she is still giving to kids after all these years,” Katelyn adds.
Every year, Katelyn goes to spend the night with her grandmother and helps her wrap and pack the bags.
“Katelyn loves to wrap,” Janice says.
Janice receives donations from her Golden Age Sunday school class at Gold Hill Wesleyan, which fills a stocking to go with each bag. Her class also takes up an offering once a month to help fund the project.
Janice scours stores year-round in search of good deals.
She buys large Christmas gift bags when they go on sale for 90 percent off after Christmas. Instead of spending $3, she spends about 30 cents.
She sometimes finds $80 coats for $10 at J.C. Penney, and last year, she paid 99 cents for pajamas that retailed for $32.
Of course, Janice has to sock away items throughout the year, and that takes some doing. She doesn’t have any idea of how many plastic bins she has collected to store her Christmas stock.
“It does take a lot of time,” she says, “but I really enjoy it.”
Janice gets a lot of gratification when she hears back that the children are happy with what they’ve been given.
“Our parents are very appreciative of what Janice has done,” Betsy says. “She is a blessing to the school.”
One little girl, Betsy adds, comes up to her every day at school and says, “I love my coat!” ó one that Janice provided for her.
Her actions have made an impression on her grandchildren.
“She is the most giving person I know,” Katelyn says. “Not only are we lucky to have her in our lives, but so are all of these children.
“I am proud to be her granddaughter.”