CHAMPION — “Use two hands. It’s heavy,” Susan Jacobs, the deaf education teacher at Champion Central Elementary School, told Mack Easton, 3, on Thursday, as he hefted his gift and hesitantly headed back to his seat.
He ripped into the wrapping paper, covered with beaming Santas, to discover a Play-Doh set to make little Play-Doh lions.
Another student signed “thank you” to Rocky Rockwell, the chairman of the Warren Lions Club Christmas committee, before opening a gift-wrapped box to find several regally dressed dolls looking up at her.
It was the annual Lion’s Club-sponsored Christmas party for hearing-impaired children. Originally scheduled before Christmas, the event had to be postponed because of a snow day, but that didn’t stop the gifts from eventually finding their way to the roomful of excited kids.
Rockwell, now in his 80s, has been in the Lion Club for more than 50 years. He used to attend the event with his own daughter, Michele Rubenstein, who continues to shop for the children’s gifts.
“It just appealed to me that we would take care of the kids at Christmastime,” he said.
Rhonda Buie, a special education teacher at Champion, smiled as one by one, the waiting children’s patience wore out and they tore open their gifts.
Buie has been helping with the event for at least 10 years. She was set on the path to become a special education teacher in seventh grade when she saw a child in the TV show “Little House on the Prairie”sign the Lord’s Prayer. “I want to learn that,” she had said.
Jones, who learned sign language when she became friends with the deaf students in her high school, was in charge of making sure each child got a gift.
“They love it and they don’t always get this at home,” she said. “Plus it teaches them to be appreciative.”