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Aberdeen North Highland brings joy to Enemy Swim Day School

By: Story and photos by Rev. Lou Whitmer, Aberdeen North Highland

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Members of North Highland UMC enjoy refreshment and visiting with staff at Enemy Swim Day School. Photos courtesy of Aberdeen North Highland UMC.

Members of Aberdeen North Highland UMC (NHUMC) took a day to travel to Enemy Swim Day School near Waubay, South Dakota with vehicles full of gifts. For 12 years, NHUMC has delivered gifts, visited with the children and staff, and shared in Christmas joy at Enemy Swim.

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Children unwrap gifts and share with members of Aberdeen North Highland.

NHUMC partners with Spirit Lake Ministry Center and several churches near Aberdeen to provide the 200 students with gifts. After the boxes arrive at North Highland and the numbers in each classroom are ascertained, the boxes are sorted and equalized. Each classroom receives similar boxes, and always some identical items.

The day at Enemy Swim Day School is a joy to the children and visitors from Aberdeen. The gift-bearers from North Highland UMC spend time with the children, mostly with the preschool through 6th grade classrooms, celebrating with the children as they open their gifts.

Particular care has been taken in recent years to remain sensitive to the older youth who are sometimes cautious or mildly uncomfortable with gift-bearing visitors from outside their community and culture. Their gifts are carefully selected, presented in gift bags rather than placed in shoeboxes. They are dropped off near the class room with no photographs or fanfare. They express their gratitude more quietly in letter or message form.

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A hug for Santa, a member of North Highland UMC.

This year a young adult from North Highland joined the team as Santa who was extremely popular with the youngest students. 

"We are grateful for this opportunity, and very thankful for the area churches who assist them with collection of gifts,” said Rev. Lou Whitmer, Aberdeen North Highland UMC.