The senior class of Sayre High School took the spirit of the holiday season to a new level this year with a unique raffle that provided the Sayre Salvation Army Food Bank with a holiday gift of $263.

The "Unwrap the Present - Basket Raffle" was the brainchild of the SHS Class of 2013 officers, who wanted to provide additional food assistance to struggling area families over the holidays. According to Senior Class Advisor Rhonda Tracy, the officers realized that in this difficult economy, the Salvation Army could certainly use some additional help in feeding the less fortunate.

According to Tracy, "Our district students, staff and faculty had a really great outcome in the annual Rusty Rail Food Drive this year. We put over nine thousand food and drink items on the Salvation Army shelves the night of the Sayre-Athens football game. Besides beating Athens by over six thousand items, we had the satisfaction of knowing that our contributions would help the hungry over the entire year. But as the holidays approached, the senior class officers approached me and said that we needed to do more to help carry people through the holidays. They came up with the idea of a basket raffle that they would tie-in to the annual decorating of the school cafeteria. Once that idea got put out there, they really ran with it!"

The concept was to solicit donations from local businesses and individuals in order to put together a number of different Christmas Baskets. Then the annual holiday decorating of the cafeteria would have a new twist by making the interior windows look like Christmas presents, and under the wrapping of each one would be the name of one of the baskets. The class officers then sold raffle tickets during the three lunch periods for the last few days before the holiday break. On the final day, the winning tickets were drawn during each of the three lunch periods. The winners were then able to tear open the window "presents" to see which gift basket they had won.

"This really was a clever, win-win holiday idea," said Tracy. "The baskets tied-in with the decorating, the school winners got to 'unwrap' their presents in front of the students in the lunch rooms and the Food Bank got a financial gift to help them through the holidays. It really ended up exactly as the kids envisioned it. Nick Skerpon, our class president, got his family seriously involved in creating the baskets. Nick and the other officers took this idea from brain-storming all the way to delivering the money to the Salvation Army. I am so proud of them!"

The basket raffle idea, of course, would have fallen flat without help of some benevolent local businesses and individuals. The many sponsors reflected some of the wonderful gifts in the baskets. They included the Keystone Roller Rink, Karen Frantecongili from Alliger's House of Wings, Skerpon's Beverage, Marge Ross from the Sayre Theatre, Simmons Rockwell, Kim Skerpon, Linda Murrelle, Charlotte Skerpon, Christine Arena, Kara Cochi, Kevin Horn from Williams Auto, and the Elmira Jackals.

Tracy concluded, "With all of the tragic, school-related news that was out there just before Christmas, I was thrilled to be a part of something so positive. We are really lucky to have students, adults and businesses in this community who care so much about our community. They are always so willing to give to help others. I think that this basket raffle really made the holiday very special for this year. It turned out to be a great Christmas story!"

The officers of the Sayre High School Class of 2013 who created and carried out the "Unwrap the Present - Basket Raffle" are President Nick Skerpon, Vice President Katie Hurley, Treasurer Mitchell Reilly, Secretary Kelsey Young, Historian Molly Robinson and Sergeant of Arms Krista Ammerman.