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December 17, 2017 GMT

HARLINGEN — “The nice people are coming! The nice people are coming!”

Fatima Reguera, 17, smiled broadly as she remembered the way children greeted her and others delivering presents while dressed in red caps

“Look!” she remembered them saying. “They look like Santa’s elves.”

She and about 50 other students were delivering donated presents to families yesterday as part of “Operation Santa,” sponsored by the National Honor Society at Harlingen High School South.

However, numerous other organizations participated, including the choir, band and other student groups.

The families were chosen by nearby elementary schools. The high school has been accepting donations for awhile.

“We have been doing this for two months,” said Melissa Aguirre, NHS sponsor.

She looked at the youthful excitement of the kids loading gifts on vehicles for delivery. Two young men pushed bicycles down the hall.

“I think this is probably one of the best programs the students have taken on,” she said.

The students gave the event high marks, too.

“I like to see the looks on their faces,” said Joseph Fraga, 18.

Once vehicles were loaded with all manner of gifts — Barbie dolls, Legos, puzzles, Hot Wheels and numerous other items — the students fanned out and made their deliveries. They came back with many stories to tell.

“I loved seeing the smiles on the little kids’ faces,” Joseph said as he enjoyed a plate of chicken Alf redo at Jason’s Deli. A large number of the student volunteers had gathered there.

“It was a really loving thing to do giving to kids who didn’t have anything.”

Dylon Cardenas also felt touched by the reception.

“It went pretty well,” said Dylon, 17. “The first family wasn’t there. We called ahead but they said they were running late.”

Once they arrived, the family dove into their presents, very pleased and grateful for what they’d received.

Aguirre also was pleased at the event’s success.

“We delivered presents to a lot of happy children and the families were grateful,” she said. “This is the best community service events we’ve had in years.”

The students, she said, were all in agreement that it was indeed best to give than to receive.