A broad smile spread across the face of 7-year-old Omarion Hicks-Bey on Tuesday morning when two Metrobus operators — one dressed as Santa Claus and the other as an elf — gave him a bike and a shopping bag full of wrapped gifts.
Hicks-Bey was one of 25 children from Amidon-Bowen Elementary School in Southwest Washington who were chosen by their teachers and administrators to receive gifts from employees at Metro’s Western Division bus garage on Wisconsin Avenue NW.
“Can we take these home with us and ride it?” he asked Santa and his elf, who chuckled.
It all began about two months ago when bus operators Glenn White, Talisha Johnson and Gineare Pickett went to their superintendent, Peggy Neils, and asked if they could organize their colleagues to act as a secret Santa.
Each child, ages 3 to 10, wrote a wish list, and the employees used their own money to buy video games, bikes, iPods, skateboards, clothes, dolls and stuffed animals.
Neils estimated that the workers spent more than $2,000 buying gifts, decorations, pizza and cupcakes for the event.
Metro sent a bus to the school Tuesday to shuttle the students and their teachers across town to Western’s headquarters.
“I thought it was a great way to help needy families who don’t have as much as we do,” said Pickett as she watched the kids open gifts.
Guyrin Henderson, a bus operator, said he helped buy gifts for the kids because “I got a lot.”
“I don’t need anything,” he said. “I can’t do nothing but give it back.”
Latetia Cureton-Alston, a data entry clerk at Amidon who helped organize the event, said parents with kids enrolled at the school had called her during recent weeks asking about any special programs to help those in need this holiday season. Some told her that they had just lost their jobs. Others had their hours cut. Some said they simply didn’t have enough money to buy their children presents this year.
“I had one parent who told me her kids would have to wait until next month for a gift because that’s when she got paid,” Cureton-Alston said.
White, an organizer, said he and his wife spent more than $200 buying toys.
“It’s not about Christmas,” he said. “It’s about sharing love with someone less fortunate than us.”
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