Nightly News   |  December 25, 2013

Students learn value of giving gifts

Students at Atlanta's Whitefoord Elementary school are learning to look at Christmas in a whole new way. Gabe Gutierrez reports.

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>>> a great story this holiday season from an elementary school in georgia. it involves a unique idea we first reported on several years ago that's now teaching more kids to look at christmas in a whole new way. nbc 's gabe gutierrez has the story.

>>> away from the holiday hustle, from the traffic, the malls, the credit cards , we found an extraordinary shopping trip at atlantis whiteford elementary. in this gym, there are tables and tables of donated presents. gifts these kids couldn't afford to buy on their own. but all year they have been collecting points for good behavior.

>> here we go.

>> reporter: now they get to spend them.

>> that's a great choice.

>> reporter: not on themselves.

>> how old is your brother?

>> and grandma and mom.

>> reporter: but on their families. 4th grader nicholas dorsey wants jewelry for mom, an art kit for his brother, and the purse for grandma.

>> if you give something to somebody, you feel special.

>> reporter: organizers call it project gift, an idea they got in 2009 .

>> tonight we have something --

>> reporter: when they saw a similar event in florida " nbc nightly news." this program started several years ago with just 50 needy kids. it's now grown to more than 300 and some 2,000 gifts.

>> it's infectious.

>> reporter: an added bonus, the point system brings discipline. after all, santa is always watching.

>> we have seen a decline in the number of absences. it's really impacted how students are behaving during the school day .

>> reporter: most of of the kids here come from low income families. for many, these are the first presents they have ever been able to give.

>> it makes me feel very happy because this year my mom and grandma can have something under the tree, too.

>> reporter: once they have made their selections, volunteers wrap them. who knew a gift label could mean so much.

>> to mom, from tyler.

>> reporter: a holiday lesson they will hopefully carry for a lifetime. gabe gutierrez, nbc news, atlanta.