Christmas can be a tough and stressful time of year for families struggling financially.
St. Clair County Coroner Calvin Dye Sr. knows that first-hand — he grew up in a single-parent home and wasn’t always able to get the gifts he wanted for Christmas. So instead of exchanging gifts with his wife this year, Dye decided they would both take the money they would have spent on each other and buy gifts for children who may not have otherwise had a good Christmas.
Brooklyn 11-year-old Noah Allen was one of the two students chosen for a mini shopping spree at Walmart. His sixth-grade teacher, Vanae Chapman, said Noah takes the Black Lives Matter movement and everything happening with police seriously.
“It’s very dear to him, and he doesn’t always understand,” Chapman said. “I chose him so he can see that, yes, there are bad people out there, but there are good people out there too, doing good things. You can’t take all cops and think they’re all the same.”
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Chapman wanted to give her student the chance to experience people doing good deeds, instead of focusing on the bad news he sees in the media. When Noah found out Dye was a coroner, it piqued his interest.
The other student, 9-year-old Miguel Doolin from Marissa, used some of Dye’s gift money to buy a present for his sister, so they could open their presents together.
“It’s Christmas, and you’re supposed to be giving,” Miguel said. “That way we can open (our presents) on the same day.”
Dye, who grew up in East St. Louis, wanted a way to give back to the community he serves, in a way outside of his role as coroner.
“I wanted to make two less-fortunate children in St. Clair County happy this Christmas, that probably would not have had a very good Christmas,” Dye said. “I picked two less-fortunate kids so they would be able to get some things that I would not have been able to get when I was their age.”