By Brittany Hanson/Garden Grove Journal
The gym at Pacifica High School is in pandemonium as shouting senior students and happily shrieking elementary students collide. Shortly thereafter, the air is filled with laughing, even more shouting, torn paper, pounding sneakers and . . . marshmallows?
It’s not a multi-school pep assembly gone wrong.
The Adopt-A-Kid event – held this year on Dec. 14 — has been a holiday tradition at Pacifica since 1987 where the senior class of the West Garden Grove high school is paired with children from five Garden Grove Unified School District elementary schools – Lawrence, Woodbury, Riverdale, Barker, Wakeham and Parkview – to provide holiday fun and presents.
Lots and lots of presents.
Each teen is paired with at least one child, sometimes pairs of teens get one child or one teen gets a pair.
In just moments after teens find their kid, the gym floor is covered with wrapping paper as teens try to untwist Barbie from her case or put batteries in a remote controlled car.
It’s not just a morning away from books to hand off a toy and play with a kid.
“It’s something that I’m excited for. I mean, you get to help someone and make their holiday better. You get to give back,” said Capra Flak.
The picking of the present is the most challenging part of the process, according to Trevor Bloom and Danny Solis, who were teamed to adopt Gabrielle Garza, 6.
Bloom and Solis were told that Garza was kind of a tomboy, so part of her gift included a wrestling ring set, something she could really be active with while playing.
Wendy Rhinehardt, now a parent, was a member of the first class to put on Adopt-A Kid.
“It was really something great for us and it’s wonderful to know that the kids are still doing it. It kind of dates you and it’s hard to believe that it has been so long. But it’s still going and the teens still love doing this,” said Rhinehardt.
New Pacifica student Taylor McKnight, had not heard about Adopt-A-Kid until October, but thought it was really cool that her new school did it.
As McKnight assisted her two adoptees with getting their gifts out of boxes she said, “You really help kids who need it with this. I took on two kids because I didn’t want any of them to feel left out or anything. So I just decided to take on as many kids as I can.”