Hector Garcia Middle School seventh grader Kellen Dukatnik believes “everyone deserves to have a Christmas” and he brought that spirit of giving to ten families at Fernandez Elementary School this holiday season.
Dukatnik raised over $2,500 to turn his vision into a reality. The culminating event occurred the Friday before Winter Break, when he and his family were able to meet the families and students on the receiving end of their generosity.
After unloading two vehicles, tables in the school library were overflowing with wrapped gifts, turkeys in insulated bags, and boxes of food. Fernandez Principal Chaisleigh Southworth introduced the families and students to Dukatnik, describing him as their own “Santa.”
The Dukatnik family is pictured with Fernandez ES Counselor Randee Storts, Principal Chaisleigh Southworth and Vice Principal Claudia Colunga.
Fernandez administrators and counselors were also in on the holiday spirit, asking the students what they wanted for Christmas this year. Those lists were provided to Dukatnik’s family.
Smiles and tears were abundant as students and parents unwrapped the gifts. Alexis Moreno’s third grade daughter asked for a bike, something she knew she wouldn’t be able to buy.
“It’s a blessing, an unexpected blessing,” said Moreno after she watched her daughter’s face light up when she unwrapped her new bike. “I can’t believe a little boy did all this. This is our Christmas Day.”
Alexis Moreno's oldest daughter received a bike.
Some students wanted Christmas trees for their homes. Third grader Rhianna Burgess asked for a stuffed animal, to “keep me from getting nightmares at night.”
Her brother Jeremy Gracia enthusiastically thanked Dukatnik for his gifts and said, “This family is a miracle.”
Fifth grader Jeremy Gracia thanks Kellen for the gifts presented to his family, including his younger sister.
After giving a kindergartner special permission to ride his new bike in the library, Southworth said, “It’s beyond amazing what happened here today. I’m so proud that one of our own Northside students showed such caring and compassion for the families here at Fernandez.”
Principal Chaisleigh Southworth helps a kindergarten student try out his new bike in the library.
As Fernandez families left to load their cars with the gifts, Dukatnik received hugs, handshakes, and lots of thank you’s.
Kellen Dukatnik embraces a grateful mother.
“I feel so happy these families will have something to eat and something to play with,” Dukatnik said. “I’m overjoyed. It seems like it went better than we planned.”
Visit the NISD Facebook page for an album of pictures.