Beloved school custodian raises money to buy Christmas presents for every student


Harris said he first got the idea about a year ago after seeing reports of a school shooting on TV.

“I was watching the news with all the trouble going on, and it just hit me. I had tears, and I just wanted to do something for my kids,” Harris said.

While Harris had never played Santa to students before, he is known for his big heart.

The grandfather of three dresses up and uses puppets to sing happy birthday to students on their special day in the school’s cafeteria.

Harris even returned to school after his shift to sing to a student he almost forgot.

“I try to get to know every kid,” he said.

The custodian has worked for the northeast Texas school since 2008.

Justiss Elementary School Principal Renee Elmore said Harris loves every kid as his own.

Elmore was not surprised when he came to her with the idea of purchasing nearly 600 Christmas gifts.

“I was like, that’s great, but how are we going to afford this? Elmore said. “And he said, ‘I’m going to go get the money.’”

Harris cleaned the school until his shift ended before soliciting donations from area businesses.

“I was looking for a dollar a kid,” Harris said. “I told them what I wanted to do, and they loved the idea.”

Within days, Harris had raised enough money to spend $4 per child.

“He had almost all of the money within a couple of weeks,” Elmore said. “He had sponsors who donated $200, $300, $150 at a time. He is amazing.”

School elves helped Harris select the perfect gifts for the children.

And the kids’ faces said it all when they received their presents.

“When they opened them and you see their eyes light up … Yeah, that puts your heart at ease and your mind at rest. It’s just a good feeling,” Harris said.

And he’s hoping to make his Santa deliveries an annual event.

“What’s so great about it is the kids. They went home and told their mom and dad that Mr. Harris gave everybody presents and several kids came back to me, giving me presents,” Harris said.

The hard-working janitor says he has no plans of hanging up his broom or his Santa hat anytime soon.

“I just love my kids,” Harris said.

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