Rena Childers, 12, gave up her Christmas presents to keep a struggling family warm.
The Sayre School seventh-grader told her parents, Denise Smith and Joe Childers of Lexington, that instead of getting lots of gifts this year, she wanted to make a donation to the Community Action Council for a family that needed help with its heating bill.
Smith and Childers were impressed, and Rena's Christmas gift is a $300 donation to Community Action. Although she won't get wrapped presents like the rest of her family, her mother said that Rena would still get a stocking; Rena said she thought it might contain books, CDs and candy.
"I've always pretty much gotten what I wanted for Christmas ... but this year I couldn't think of anything materialistic," Rena said Friday. "I've always had the happy family thing and I wanted someone else to feel that."
Community Action Council for Lexington-Fayette, Bourbon, Harrison and Nicholas Counties is a member of the Community Action Partnership, a national organization that includes more than 1,000 community action agencies that fight poverty on the local level.
Rena's mother said her daughter and son, Will, 16, have been taught civic responsibility by their parents. Still, she said, the idea of giving up Christmas presents was Rena's own: "We said nothing about it. It was entirely her idea. ... I thought it was awfully generous ... and I just kept asking her if when Christmas morning came and she didn't have anything, if she was going to be upset. And she has assured me that she won't be."
A Christmas present is a temporary joy, Rena said. "That only makes you happy for a couple days, and that's not supposed to be the main feeling of Christmas.
"It's not what you get. It's what you give."