WAXAHACHIE — Christmas always seems to bring out the best in communities. Churches open their doors to tell the story of Jesus, organizations collect and distribute meals to those in need and residents rally around the idea behind a season of giving. For the first year, student athletes at Waxahachie High School pulled off a modern-day Christmas miracle for children throughout Ellis County.

And it began with a mere suggestion by RBI Club President Barry Navarro in October. Rather, as WISD Athletic Director Greg Reed put it, it was Navarro who “planted the seed” that the student-athletes went above and beyond to grow into something bigger than themselves.

This was the first year for a toy drive led by the entire athletic department of this magnitude, Reed noted. There have always been team-led drives, such as the volleyball team with its annual visit to the Angel Tree or the handful of drives or events hosted by the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA), but as for a department-wide event, 2016 was the first.

Like a few other organizations in the community donations benefitted children directly in Ellis County. Reed said the Texas Children’s Baptist Home was the primary recipient of the drive, but Common Ground Ministry, who held its store a week ago, is always in need of donations, especially around the holiday season.

According to Reed, the goal for the athletic department was not to adhere to any lists but to simply “hit the main things” by splitting those items between the different athletic programs. From shopping carts filled with scooters by the football team to a "truckload" of athletic gear collected at Richards Park and all of the items rounded up by the volleyball, tennis, swimming, basketball, track, cross country and soccer teams, Reed couldn't hold back a smile when speaking on the efforts of the student-athletes.

“We are super proud of the coaches and kids for that they did and for the community for backing this,” Reed said. “[…] We had no intention to break into any of [the other toy drives], we just wanted to do something that represented WISD Athletics. It was bigger and better than I ever thought it would be.”

Lady Indian head volleyball coach Sandy Faussett noted that she was also amazed, just as she always is, by how receptive and giving the community of Waxahachie is and thanked all those who helped make the event a success.

After the WHS tennis teams had sorted all of the collected toys, board games, gear, and other items into neatly organized piles for easier distribution Friday morning, representatives from the Texas Children’s Baptist Home and Common Ground Ministry filled their needs. Reed said the items leftover would be taken to the Waxahachie fire stations to add with the WFD’s annual “Toys for Kids” drive — and, yes, there were leftovers, which is just another testament to the efforts of the WISD athletes.

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Travis M. Smith, @Travis5mith

(469) 517-1470