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Fort Rucker Elementary School student does without gifts this year to help others

by Michele W. Forehand

Dothan Eagle
Dothan, AL | November 21, 2018

Ft Rucker Schools Vision: Empowered and Compassionate Learners Striving for Excellence.

Fort Rucker Elementary School student does without gifts this year to help others

Emma Pirner, an 11-year-old sixth-grade student at Fort Rucker Elementary School, is learning the true meaning of making a difference by helping those less fortunate.

In years past, Pirner has waited patiently to see what Santa would bring her. However, this year Pirner is doing something to help make Christmas a little brighter for those less fortunate.

“This year, instead of receiving gifts from my daddy and his side of the family, I have asked everyone to donate what they would spend on my gift to help make Christmas special for another child,” Emma said.

Actually, Emma is helping make Christmas a little brighter for six children. On Friday, Nov. 16, she and her grandmother, Debbie Pirner, visited the local Salvation Army, where she adopted six angels from the Angel Tree.

“I just can’t describe how proud we are of Emma,” her grandmother said. “She is a very special child and for her to want to help make Christmas special for those who are less fortunate, well, that touches our hearts.”

Emma is not the only member of the family who is helping others during the holiday season. Her grandmother also volunteers every Thanksgiving to feed the homeless in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Matt Pirner, Emma’s father, believes his daughter is trying to help carry on a family tradition of giving back during the holiday season.

“To know your child wants to help others, instead of wanting something for her, to me that shows how special Emma is. I am very proud of her. To know at this young age she is putting others rst touches my heart," he said.

Although Emma adopted six angels, her way of making a dierence is far from over. On Thanksgiving Day, she will visit her grandmother in North Carolina and both will volunteer to help feed the homeless.

“My family always makes sure I have a great Christmas, and this year, I hope by collecting $400 I can help make Christmas a time to remember for these Christmas angels,” Pirner said. “Every child should have a happy Christmas. That’s my Christmas wish -- that every boy and girl has a happy Christmas.”

Emma is showing her family and friends the true meaning of the saying “It is better to give, than receive.”

“I hope other kids my age, maybe even some of classmates, will help other kids enjoy a good Christmas,” Emma said. “I want other kids to not be selsh, and don’t just think about what they want. If you are selsh now, when you grow up you won’t be a good person.”

Emma’s gesture also drew attention from the Salvation Army.

“I am truly amazed and blessed by the act of giving by Emma,” said Salvation Army Lt. Tessa Sturdivant. “Not a lot of children would collect money to help others have a merry Christmas, instead of receiving their own Christmas gifts. This is another example of just how much people do care whether they are young or old.”

There are still angels available on the Salvation Army Angel Trees. The trees are located in the Wiregrass Commons Mall.

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