They sat with their hands folded at the desks.
A big cart rolling down the hallways was filled with green & red stockings. The students looked out the doorways. Christmas had come for the students at Medgar Evers School.
For the past eight years, Tim & Sharon Thomas of Lansing, have provided stockings for every student at Medgar Evers. That's almost 300 stockings. Their ministry, City Limits Ministries, has been around for 23 years, serving the urban areas.
"We serve in impoverished communities," said Sharon. "We look forward to this every year."
This year their 9-year-old granddaughter Ellie Thomas came from her hometown in Iowa to help them. "This is fun," says Ellie as she finds a green stocking for a first-grade boy. "I'm having a good time."
The children are excited and sit quietly as each stocking is given out.
"I got a toothbrush," says one of the first graders. One by one, all the first graders open the stockings and proudly show their new toothbrushes.
"This is one of the most popular items in the stocking," says Sharon. Each classroom presented Tim and Sharon with "thank you" cards. One card, decorated with a Christmas tree, read:
Dear Pastor Thomas and Friends,
So you are going to bring us things for our school. That is nice thing to do for us. I am going to be like you when I grow up.
Another card was opened. It said, "Thank you for all the things you are going to give me. I bet they are nice. I bet your heart is bigger than the world."
They begin collecting stockings and donations Nov. 1. Many ladies in church groups begin working on the stockings in the summer. There is a stocking pattern to follow, so that each one is the same size. This year, Thomases also received a box of donated goods and stockings from Caldwell, ID.
The cart is getting emptier by the room. In steps, the Thomases complete their mission.
One little boy, sitting in the first row of desks, jumped up and asked Mrs. Sharon to "plllllllllease open my card." Sharon walked by him and opened the card. Pennies fell out on the floor. "Those are for you, to help other people," the boy said.
Sharon kissed his forehead, stood up and put her hand on her heart. Tears were coming out from each one of us in that room.
That morning, that little boy, who lives in one of the poorest towns in Illinois, showed the true meaning of Christmas.