The commons at Worthington Kilbourne High School looked a bit like Santa's workshop last week as students wrapped the gifts they had purchased for 62 of Worthington and Dublin's neediest children.

The commons at Worthington Kilbourne High School looked a bit like Santa's workshop last week as students wrapped the gifts they had purchased for 62 of Worthington and Dublin's neediest children.

For the 17th year, the school participated in the Adopt-A-Family program, filling the wish lists of youngsters who might otherwise not have awakened to find their wishes fulfilled on Christmas morning.

The entire student body, led by the school's student council, took part in raising about $10,000 over the past few weeks. The money was collected in third-period classes, which also sent representatives to shop and wrap.

Armed with detailed lists from their charges, small groups of Kilbourne students went out shopping for the toys and clothes that the children requested.

Each child will receive $130 worth of gifts, and the rest of the money will go to their 23 families for food.

Once they purchased the toys and clothes, the students assembled them in the commons area at the school, where more students joined in the wrapping.

On Saturday, volunteers from the Dublin-Worthington Rotary Club loaded up the gifts and delivered them to waiting parents.

And quite a load it was. There were bicycles, tricycles, games, superhero equipment, dolls, and lots of coats, hats, mittens, and other clothes.

Shopping for a 10-year-old boy and his 3- and 4-year-old sisters was "a blast," said sophomore Will Bishop.

"It's one of the best fundraisers we do," he said. "The feeling you get is like, 'yeah, these kids are going to have a great Christmas'."

Fellow sophomore Payden Pierce could hardly contain his enthusiasm for the project. Dressed in a colorful Christmas sweater, he traveled the gift-wrapping circuit on Thursday morning, helping wherever he could.

"Before this, I couldn't wrap a present," he said. "Now, I'm pretty confident in my wrapping abilities."

Like his classmates, he has also learned a lot about the joy of giving back to the community.

"It is pretty humbling," he said.

That has been the general reaction of students since the program began, said Kilbourne activities director Ralph King. Graduates often return to the school to help with the Adopt-A-Family program, he said.

Since 1991, the students have raised $120,000 and helped more than 1,000 children. Though recipients' names are known only to a few officials, King knows that some of those who received gifts as children grew up to become volunteers at Kilbourne.

Family size ranges from one child to five. Some are on the list every year. Others are able to move on, once they get on their feet financially.

"It is kind of neat to see the ebb and flow of it," King said.

Families are referred to the Adopt-A-Family program by school nurses, when they notice a need. The program is headquartered at St. Michael Church, which receives the names, makes contacts, compiles lists, and makes sure everyone is served.

Other schools and organizations also adopt families through the program.