Local teacher encourages students to help a family going through childhood cancer

HOUSTON (KTRK) -- This time of year a lot of us are racking our brains to find the best gift to give people like our mailman, hair stylists or our kids' teachers, but one local woman doesn't want any gifts at all from her students.

Instead of presents for St. Thomas Episcopal second grade teacher Lali Lane, she is teaching her students a lesson - that it's better to give than receive to someone in need.

"I spoke to all the parents, and I said, 'This year, in lieu of Christmas gifts, I would like to adopt a family through Candlelighters,' Lane said.

Candlelighters helps families going through childhood cancer. Its Adopt-A-Family program serves families in not only financial need, but emotional need, as many plan to celebrate their holiday in the hospital.

Lane's class adopted a second grade student named Holt, who's fighting leukemia.

"They're spending a lot of money, and they need help because they don't have time to go shopping," Lane's student, Nicholas said.

The boys wrapped gifts with enthusiasm and placed them under the tree with love.

"We wanted to give them something so they could be happy for their Christmas," Lucas said.

Recently, Holt has felt, "Tired and sad."

"You can't play with your friends. You can't go anywhere, and your lifestyle is in isolation," Holt's mom, Crystal Griffith, said.

There isn't a lot of time to celebrate the holidays in between Holt's doctor's appointments, so getting to see her son unwrap these gifts from a group of sweet second grade students is a blessing.

"It really has opened my mind and my heart to other capacities," Griffith said.

It's a wish come true for Lali Lane.

"I wanted them to have that great feeling of doing something kind," Lane said.

And a lesson 18 second grade boys will remember forever.

"It just feels great to help a family in need," Lucas said.

Candlelighters still needs 31 families to be adopted this holiday season. They are asking sponsors to provide gifts for families that otherwise would not be celebrating this holiday season.

Suggested gift items include:

- Gift certificates from a grocery stores like HEB, Kroger or Fiesta
- Gas cards to help with the cost of gas
- Drug store cards to help with over-the-counter medical supplies
- Wal-Mart and Target cards that can be used for clothing, groceries and other needs
- Family friendly dining - including Chick-fil-A, Subway or Pizza Hut
- Sponsors can find information here
- Sponsors can make donations to Candlelighters and staff and volunteers can purchase gifts for families here
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