Students, staff join community to make holiday bright for others at Naas Elementary School.

FILE PHOTO - Naas Elementary studentsIt's generally assumed that among children, receiving presents is the most exciting part of Christmas. Students at Naas Elementary School would likely disagree.

For more than a decade, the Boring school's student body has hosted a Giving Tree holiday program, collecting toys and non-perishable food items to gift to those without.

"Parents have said it's a lot of fun because then their child will go pick a toy they'd love to receive as a gift," Principal Kimberly Brooks said. "Then they enjoy giving it to someone else."

The staff erects a tree after Thanksgiving break every year and decorates it with colorful tags that note the gender and age of a possible gift recipient. By the time the drive is over, Brooks explained, the front entryway of the school is reduced to a narrow pathway as the pile of donations under the tree grows and floods toward the office.

Last year the community of 412 students compiled more than 200 gifts and 2,000 non-perishable food items.

"It's really an amazing thing because we live in a very scattered community," Brooks noted. "Yet, people so come together and give support when it comes to providing for people in need."

In past years, the Boring Fire Department, which partners with the school on this project, have offered a prize to the class that brings in the most items. However, school staff have recently taken the drive in a more altruistic direction. They hope to keep the act of giving as the incentive and teach students to give back simply because they should, rather than for a reward.

"It's amazing to me — the kids really seem to get that," Brooks said.

Donations are now being accepted, and the drive will run until Wednesday, Dec. 13.

For more information, call the school office at 503-668-4454.