Students in five area school districts get free Christmas hoodies, T-shirts

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Bradleyville, Mo. It's become one of the most special Christmas celebrations in the Ozarks over the past eight years.

The Bradleyville school district hosts an annual event where students from five area schools all receive clothing thanks to a local foundation.

As you pull into the parking lot, the first thing you notice outside the Bradleyville school is that Santa is waiting by the front door.

And inside you're met by carolers and an array of decorations.

Every single locker has been adorned, as has every classroom door. And apparently, if you believe the signs on the wall, even the hallways are under "elf surveillance".

Courtesy of the Spanish Club you'll find a Christmas tree wearing a sombrero, and the Bradleyville students are decked out in their Christmas sweaters to greet the other four schools as they arrive.

That's who the outdoor Santa was waiting for. And once they have their picture made with Saint Nick, it's on to the gym where over 700 students and adults get treated to a holiday program that ranges from the frivolity of the "Grinch Who Stole Christmas" to the touching sound of young voices singing "Silent Night".

And then there were presents. Not only goodies like candy, but every single student from Mark Twain, Taneyville, Plainview, Thornfield, and Bradleyville gets a hoodie and a T-shirt.

"It's super awesome!" proclaimed one young student from Plainview. "I was like whaaaaaaaaaaat!"

"I think it's easy for us to forget that not everybody has the kind of Christmas that we might have had as children," said Camille Dautrich, an art teacher at Bradleyville.

"There's certainly a need down here," explained David Taylor, the spokesman for the Slusher Foundation. "And that's really the goal is to get clothing into the hands of the children."

"I think it's very, very important not just for the kids but to the community as a whole," added Bradleyville senior Jacob Landis. "It's to show that we give back."

The clothing is made possible by a foundation established by the late Roy and Nora Slusher, who have contributed over six million dollars to non-profit organizations across southwest Missouri.

And there were groceries handed courtesy of the Ozarks Food Harvest.

"It reminds me that we still have a great country despite all we hear about," said Leon Combs, who graduated from Bradleyville over 70-years ago and is well known for his community support. "This time of year we should especially count our blessings."

The Slusher Foundation also handed out over 170-thousand dollars in checks to 32 area non-profit organizations.