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Famous faces, local friends bring Christmas cheer to Dickens students

Students receive gifts from 3News, and spend time with a local author and an international basketball star before holiday break.

CLEVELAND — Perhaps more than any other holiday, Christmas brings out the kid in all of us. But for children in need, the holidays can be a tough time. So, all month long, famous folks and everyday good samaritans showed up to help make spirits bright for our sponsor students at Dickens Elementary. 

3News partnered with Charles Dickens Elementary in Cleveland at the start of the new school year, to monitor students as they work to improve their reading. This month, an author, a carpenter, and a basketball player brought their own special love of literacy to the kids, just in time for Christmas.

Harlem Globetrotter Zeus McClurkin stopped by Dickens before holiday break, showing the kids his fancy dribbling and trick shots, and sneaking a book into the school's Little Free Library. The tattered box was recently repaired by a local carpenter from Cleveland's Carpenter's Union. McClurkin recorded a PSA about the importance of reading: 

"I’m here today to tell you guys that reading is so fundamental. It’s very important. Basketball helped me discover my love of reading," said McClurkin in the ad spot.

Local author Auguste Moone also visited Dickens, bringing his books to life during the after-school tutoring program Dickens Reads. He gave each student a book to keep, which was great timing; COVID shut down Dickens Reads just before break. Volunteers had to hustle together books for the kids to take home over the holiday.

And 3News couldn't resist playing Santa for some students. Our team of elves, led by Jay Crawford, dropped off a huge haul of gifts - hoping to make the season bright for a couple of Dickens families having an especially rough year.

"It means a lot. We get to have fun. We get to receive things," said Serinty McCollum, who received gifts from 3News, along with the rest of her family, including brother Zyaire.

"I didn't really want nothin' for Christmas, but this is a blessing," said Zyaire.

But before all the gifts and good feelings occurred, a shooting near Dickens on December 2 started the month. A young female was injured, but no Dickens students were hurt. It was a sobering reminder of the very adult problems these children face, even during the most wonderful time of the year.

As a proud sponsor of Dickens Reads, 3News will continue to track the reading progress of Dickens' kids all school year. However, given CMSD's recent announcement about schools going back to remote learning after winter break, we will be suspending our Dickens Reads program until further notice. Check back on 3News and on WKYC.com for updates.

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