WICHITA FALLS (KFDX/KJTL) — In a season that focuses so much on gifts, one local gym is making it a point to show their community how much better it is to give than receive.
Wednesday, December 15, staff and members of Fit Body Boot Camp in Wichita Falls delivered Christmas gifts to 164 students all across the Wichita Falls Independent School District.
Sixty-six students at Booker T. Washington Elementary received gifts, along with 44 students at Lamar Elementary, 27 students at West Foundation Elementary, 10 students at Jefferson Elementary, 10 Scotland Park Elementary students, 5 students at Kirby Middle School, and a student at Crocket Elementary and a student at Cunningham Elementary.
Amanda Bolding, Director of Operations at FBBC, said the students are nominated by their teachers, school staff members, counselors, and others who see them day-to-day at school.
“For some kids, these may be all they see for Christmas,” Bolding said. “For others, it’s a little help to some parents who work hard for their kiddos and it’s a blessing in itself.”
It’s all a part of #FBCCGives, a program that runs from October 1 until December 31 to raise money to buy gifts for these students.
Bolding said 20 cents is donated with every social media check-in during that timeframe, as well as proceeds from shirt purchases and 100% of a holiday 21-Day Jumpstart promo.
However, Bolding said the thanks go to their clients first and foremost for turning a small dream into a massive reality.
“We are just the host, they are the heroes,” Bolding said. “They are the ones who line up to sponsor these kiddos.”
After that, the sponsorships open up to the community, where FBBC’s social media contacts, family and friends, even staff members all pitch in to make sure no one is left out.
But, for Bolding and her staff, that’s just the beginning of the story.
The true magic, the incredible stories of generosity happen when the gifts are delivered.
“Last year, one little girl opened her gift at one of the elementary schools, and part of it was a coat,” Bolding said. “Well, it was a little small, and she wanted to wear it, but it was snug. Another child who had gotten her own gift came up and offered HER personal coat, which was bigger, and told her ‘This will keep you and your heart warm’.”
Bolding said that child was maybe in first grade, and even though she of course couldn’t give her own jacket away, the words and gesture brought her to tears.
“We went and got her a bigger coat,” Bolding said.
This year, 66 students were delivered gifts at Booker T. Washington Elementary. One of those students asked for a particular pair of shoes.
“We of course got them,” Bolding said. “When he opened them he was ecstatic. He said, ‘Yes! I hoped these were here!’ Then he got up, walked them over to his friend, and said, ‘I got these for you’ and walked away.”
It’s stories like that, of kids who have needs of their own, looking out for and giving to the needs of their friends and family, that leave the FBBC staff in awe.
“These kids’ hearts are just amazing,” Bolding said.
Bolding said they got the students everything they could on their lists, there were still some gifts that weren’t able to be given.
“One young man put his three gift choices as extra recess for his class, an ice cream party for his class, and a snowcone machine,” Bolding said.
While they were able to get a snowcone machine for the boy, Bolding said the selflessness in this students’ two other gift requests moved even the staff at Booker T.
“His amazing principal assured us that because of his heart for thinking of others first, he would get those other two things from her,” Bolding said.
Bolding said there have been some heartbreaking gift requests, from space heaters to household appliances, even students asking for gifts for other family members.
Bolding has seen heartbreak first-hand. Her son, Kaleb Honea, passed away in August 2020 after a devastating car accident at just 16 years old.
But it’s something Kaleb said before he passed away that has stuck with Bolding; The only thing you owe another person is compassion.
“Now more than ever, I live that with my whole heart,” Bolding said. “We don’t do it for recognition or validation, we do it because our community is our home.”
And three years into the #FBBCGives program, with no end in sight, the team at Fit Body Boot Camp are doing their part to make their community a better place.
“These kids are the future and they deserve every bit of what we can do to give them the best future possible,” Bolding said.