The season of giving

Texas High leadership participates in Tiger Angels


Coach Vince Minter supervised Leadership members assembly of a scooter for a Tiger Angel Gift. Submitted Photo

Story by Nashita Kalam, News/Feature Editor

Little kids’ faces light up as leadership students walk through the doorway with baskets of presents. They realize that they will still be getting a Christmas through the school, even if it isn’t from home. 

On Dec. 14, the Texas High leadership classes participated in the annual Tiger Angels program. The students are paired with a child in need and given a list of things the students wanted to make their Christmas complete. 

“Last year my Tiger Angel just asked for clothes and dolls, which was really sad,” senior Katherine Sandefur said. “Whenever kids have to fill out the list of what they want and say the things they asked for it really puts into perspective what they would choose if they’re only given the option of asking for one thing.”

Leadership students participated in this project for years. It started as a semester final but turned into something big. 

“When I started teaching this leadership class probably 20 years ago, I knew that I wanted us to do a project for our semester exam. One of the ideas that came about was participating in the Angel Tree program,” leadership teacher Susan Waldrep said. “We decided to pair with Highland Park elementary, so we have been contacting their principals for 20 years and they provide us with 20 names of kids. We’ve created a sheet that has evolved over the 20-year time span, where they fill out what they want and need, and the teachers also get to fill out things.”

The choice of getting students from Highland Park was not random. The leadership program chose the school because of the economic conditions of the students. 

“We know that other schools are already paired with organizations such as Westlawn is with Williams Memorial,” Waldrep said. “We knew that Highland Park did not have a pairing and that a lot of those parents didn’t already get services. They worked minimum wage jobs, so they didn’t qualify for some things, but there wasn’t any money leftover [for Christmas gifts].”

The students don’t know who they’ll end up with as their angel, but Waldrep pairs them based on similarities.

[My angel] asked for a bike so I’m currently saving money and fundraising money with my partner to buy her a bike and surprise her with it.”

— Katherine Sandefur

“I usually do the pairings we receive from the angels from the school,” Waldrep said. “So if there’s a child who enjoys art, or theater or whatever, I try to pair it with leadership students who have those same interests.”

The project doesn’t only open up students’ eyes, but it also prepares them for the real world. Students are responsible for finding money to fund the project. 

“This semester project is supposed to teach my students how to get from the planning to the ending,” Waldrep said. “So whatever project they choose, they don’t have to choose a Tiger Angel they could do, they can choose anything they want to, but they have to write up a budget and how they’re going to get that money, whether it’s by getting some of their peers to contribute money or whether it’s going around and getting donations.”

The Tiger angel project allows students who don’t have the conditions to have a Christmas actually to have one. It can broaden their horizons and give them a way to change a life. 

“This year, some of our Tiger Angels are homeless, and that’s a really tough thing to look at. You’ve got five-year-olds who the teacher said they need everything in a tub because they’re going to have to carry it with them,” Waldrep said. “Sometimes it’s really heart-wrenching, but it’s good for us to see that there are people in need and we can make a difference in their lives.”