Parkview Elementary third-grader Jaimee Martin had a unique request for her mom when it came to Christmas this year: she didn’t want any presents of her own. Instead, she only wanted to give gifts to others.
Jaimee and her mom, Sue Martin, have spent the last few weeks gathering up presents for a long list of people, including all of her family members and several Parkview staff members — the secretary, the computer, music, art and P.E. teachers, her homeroom teacher, her first and second grade teachers, the librarian, nurse, counselor and principal. Jaimee had plenty of her own money to spend on her loved ones — she saved more than $300 from picking up walnuts earlier this year.
“I thought that I’m sure I may have a couple things but there’s a lot of people around me that may need a lot more,” Jaimee said. “I worked really hard and I shouldn’t spend it on me. I thought more about other people and how they should have a really good Christmas.”
The first gift, a watch, was given to the school secretary. Principal Stephanie Jackson said it caught everyone by surprise.
“The secretary was bawling and came to show me,” Jackson said. “She told me that Jaimee said, ‘I wanted to give it to you because people don’t usually give you things since you don’t have students.’ She was totally moved by that.”
“Some people were concerned the gifts were too expensive (when we dropped off the first one), but I told them we’re not done yet, we just got started,” Sue said. “It’s what she wants to do this year. If she didn’t have the money I would’ve done it because it’s what she wanted to do. She wants to make sure everyone has a good Christmas. She always thinks about those that are in her life.”
Jaimee picked out all the gifts, many of them necklaces or other jewelry, and said she picked them by deciding what each teacher would look best in. She also made sure to get a gift for each of her family members, and did some Christmas shopping without mom at school when they had items available for students to purchase for $1 each.
Sue said giving back to others is common for the 8-year-old. She frequently donates to causes at church and rarely asks for anything for herself, often “going without so others can be happy.”
“Jaimee shows the true meaning of Christmas, generosity,” Jackson said. “Generosity is the character word of the month for December. What a great example, to not just us adults but to everyone. We wanted to recognize her for what she was doing. You could tell it was genuine, just what she wanted to do.”
During last Friday’s Tiger Pride Assembly at Parkview, two to three students from each classroom were recognized for being character kids, as is customary for each month. Once the certificates had been handed out, Jackson began describing a student who had been very generous this Christmas and didn’t ask for anything from Santa, and Jaimee soon realized she was the student being described.
“I was sitting down and she was describing someone who was generous and had picked up $300 worth of walnuts,” Jaimee said. “When I was walking up there I felt a little nervous, but then I felt confident because I did the right thing and this is a reward.”
In recognition of her generosity, Jackson presented Jaimee with an iPod Shuffle and an iTunes gift card, as the straight-A student loves music and singing. Jaimee continued to prove her maturity well beyond her years when she graciously accepted a gift for herself.
“Our character word was generosity and I told (Jackson) she was very generous for giving me this, she didn’t have to give me anything, I just wanted to give to other people,” Jaimee said. “It was generous of her, she didn’t have to do it but she did it because she thought it would be nice.”
When asked why she decided to go without gifts this year, she had a simple reason: she likes giving to other people.
“You get a really good feeling when you give to other people instead of yourself,” Jaimee said. “When people smile when you give them something, it’s a very joyful feeling.”