The surprises kept coming at Putnam Elementary School Tuesday morning from the Blue Elves of BBVA Compass bank visiting the West Side campus.
Their crew – decked out in Santa hats in the company’s signature color – spent the morning with first- and second-graders reading a story and decorating gingerbread cookies. They then did what Christmas elves normally do: provided a toy to every single good boy and girl around.
“Sometimes we take for granted that every child receives many gifts during the holiday season but at Putnam there are many who aren’t as fortunate and don’t have the amenities other students in the district may have,” said Principal Cynthia Sanchez.
The students received more than toy, however.
The bank kicked off their holiday giving by announcing each first-and second-grader would go home with a $25 voucher to start a savings account. The bank gave a short lesson on the importance of saving for college before announcing the $25 gift.
“It’s important to plant the seed of saving early,” said Yolanda Davila, BBVA community relations executive for Texas. “It’s key to their success and future.”
BBVA employees broke into small groups to read an interactive story about the gingerbread man. Students listened intently to the holiday story, interjecting in all the right places.
“In addition to giving, which is always nice to do, we want to engage directly with the children and let them know that there are adults out there who care,” Davila said. “We like to bring holiday cheer by giving physical presents but also being present.”
The short story led up to a little sugar. Each student took the blank canvas of gingerbread cookie to design their own creation in, of course, BBVA blue.
“Mine looks like Cookie Monster,” one student called out, taking a dollop of frosting and saturating the gingerbread man with blue icing and a set of googly eyes.
Student Donovan MacKenzie held up his creation – a one-eyed gingerbread man outlined in blue.
“Yum,” he said, after taking a big bite – giving both his creation and the treat a big thumbs up.
Once the cookie project finished, then came a huge hand drumroll and the final surprise of the morning: toys for everybody. BBVA carefully had lined up rows and rows of Candylands, Mr. Potato Heads, Troll dolls and Play-Doh sets behind a curtain in the gym to give the students.
The students erupted into cheers when they saw their gifts.
“Seeing the students have a smile on their face brings me great joy,” Sanchez said. “We’re not only feeding them academically but helping them evolve socially.”
Student Christian Leos loved Tuesday’s activities even before the BBVA elves unveiled the final surprise.
“This the best day of my life,” he said. “I’m really excited.”