As the holidays drew near, Cook decided to get involved in providing gifts for students. A daunting task when you consider he ended up collecting for the entire student body at Camdenton's Hawthorn Elementary.

Eric Cook has a big heart when it comes to kids.

There’s no doubt about it and there’s no doubt that he is willing to go above and beyond to make things happen for his class of fourth grade students at Hawthorn Elementary in Camdenton. Always willing to lend a hand, Cook took on a new challenge this holiday season that won’t be soon forgotten.

When Cook first found himself at the center of attention, he was in the midst of collecting  school supplies for students in need and taking them shopping to pick out what they needed. 

This year he didn’t stop at school supplies. As the holidays drew near, Cook decided to get involved in providing gifts for students. A daunting task when you consider he ended up collecting for the entire student body at Camdenton’s Hawthorn Elementary.

“It all started when I heard a kid in my class yell at a student that her family can’t afford gifts and she’d be getting none. That  broke my heart. I also new of other kids who were struggling in my class. So I posted on Facebook to see if anyone would like to help my class. Response was great. Then someone mentioned about the whole school. I thought why not,” he said. “I pleaded for help again as I can’t afford over 400 gifts Then Shawnee Bluff approaches me and said they’d match the funds up to $6,000. So now I’m on a fundraising spree to be able to get for the whole school.”

Looking over the lists, there are a lot of things wanted that Cook said many of us take granted. It’s not unusual to have a student ask for shoes, clothes and other items. 

“That’s the hard part, he said. “Breaks your heart. I want every kid to have a great Christmas.”

So for the last several weeks,when not busy in the classroom or spending time with his family, Cook has been busy purchasing and organizing gift giving for more than 400 students. Not an easy task. He figures each gift runs about $15.

In fact, Cook took a day off last week just to get caught up. Choosing and getting the gifts is the easy part, paying the bill is a bit tougher. But as long as the outcome means every student has something under the tree, Cook said it’s worth it.

Interested in helping? Cook can be reached at ericcook29@yahoo.com