Santa visits Frank Elementary School in Kenosha

KENOSHA (WITI) -- Christmas can be a difficult time for some families in southeast Wisconsin, but for four years now, a community effort in Kenosha has helped make the holiday happier for students at Frank Elementary.

500 K-5 students had a chance to visit with Santa and open gifts on Thursday, December 19th.

"Ten to 15 percent of our students are homeless and 95 percent are on free and reduced lunch," explained Heather Connolly, Principal of Frank Elementary.

Parents say watching their children open an early Christmas gift is a very special moment.

"I think it shows the spirit of Christmas and the spirit of giving and we should be thankful for one another," said Brenda Sheperd.

For adults in the room, believing in Santa becomes more than knowing he exists.

"Believing is believing in something larger than yourself or more than your immediate surroundings," said Sgt. Bill Beth with the Kenosha County Sheriff's Department.

The annual gift giveaway is made possible by individual donations as well as partnerships with the YMCA, Sheriff's Department and Kenosha Walgreens stores.

This year, Walgreens donated $3,000 to help purchase gifts.