Riley Corona

More stories from Riley Corona


Christmas time is all about sharing joy with others, and Etowah students are working to give back to the community. Shop with an Eagle (SWAE) is a program at Etowah where students work together to help raise money and give underprivileged children an enjoyable Christmas.  

“My partner and I had the best time with our Junior Eagle! It was amazing to see how happy he was throughout the day and getting to learn some of his moves, like the floss, made it all worth it,” Kerry Durick, junior, said. 

This year, 61 students from Etowah’s feeder elementary schools had the opportunity to participate in SWAE. The community raised money through donations and selling SWAE t-shirts, each child was allotted 135 dollars to spend on both necessities and toys. 

“180 Etowah students participated as mentors, taking 61 Junior Eagles shopping at the Woodstock Crossing Shopping Center to fulfill their wish list. Through fundraising and donations, each Junior Eagle was provided a $135 gift card to shop,” Kristy Szpindor, SWAE facilitator, said. 

After school on Friday Nov. 30, mentors decorated the C lobby, the main cafeteria, and the courtyard in preparation for the next day. In order to bring the holiday spirit out in the Junior Eagles, students wanted to make the cafeteria as festive as possible.  

“It’s always fun to decorate for the event, as we all work together to make the kids’ day as special as possible,” Zach Meyers, senior, said. 

The next morning, mentors reported to the main cafeteria dressed in their SWAE shirts. At 7:45 a.m., the Junior Eagles started arriving. As the mentors and their children started their day with breakfast, so they could get to know each other better. 

“Eating breakfast with our kid was the start of an awesome bond with our Junior Eagle and was a great way to get to know each other,” Maddy Sansone, sophomore, said. 

After breakfast, students and mentors boarded school buses to go to the Woodstock Crossing Shopping Center.  

“It was a very humbling experience and the mentors really enjoyed spending time shopping with the children,” Jesse McDonald, freshman, said. 

After returning to Etowah, the mentors helped wrap the newly bought presents while the football team provided pizza. After lunch, the junior eagles went to “Santa’s Workshop,” provided by the PTA, where children picked out gifts for their families. 

“I think it was a really good experience for kids to get something for their parents as well. I like that they can experience giving a gift,” Connor Fisher, sophomore, said. 

If you are interested in participating in next year’s SWAE, applications will come out in the fall of 2019.