Easton Neitzel, from left, Cade Goff, Alex Martin, Matthew Ismay, Kevin Martin, Adam Harvey and Jordan Harvey hold Christmas gifts purchased for a Keizer family in need. (KEIZERTIMES/Derek Wiley)

By DEREK WILEY
Of the Keizertimes

Three Keizer kids looked out their window and declared, “They’re here. They’re here.”

It wasn’t Santa and his elves. But on this Christmas these visitors brought just as much excitement as McNary’s boys basketball team arrived carrying gifts for a local family in need.

Ryan Kirch started the adopt a family program six years ago when he became the head coach at McNary as a way for his players to develop leadership and character.

“Our kids are real fortunate where they come from,” Kirch said. “I think it’s really good for them just to appreciate things a little bit and the impact they can have on other people’s lives by just doing something as simple as giving a gift to a kid who doesn’t have anything. It’s really meaningful to them and I think gives them perspective.”

Kirch gets the name of a family and their wish list every year from Dayspring Fellowship Pastor Larry Grine, whose son played for the Celtics.

“It’s nice to do something for someone else,” McNary senior Cade Goff said. “We’ve had some emotional parents, which opens up your eyes to what some other people are experiencing during the holidays.”

With a $250 budget, the team did most of the shopping on Tuesday, Dec. 20 at Keizer Station.

They bought each kid—a 13-year-old boy and nine and 11-year-old girls—a jacket and gloves. Their other purchases included an iPod shuffle, drone, stuffed teddy bear, coloring backpack, Shopkins, boxes of macaroni and cheese and cans of soup.

The players then wrapped the gifts themselves and delivered the presents on Wednesday, Dec. 21.

“I think they were surprised with how many gifts we brought because a lot of other families contributed, too,” Goff said. “We added in things, a Subway gift card, gas card and a (Nintendo) DS on top of what we bought. We hope to get in contact with them after Christmas and see how it went.”