11 year old inspires community to spread Christmas cheer

11 year old inspires community to spread Christmas cheer
Wednesday, December 22, 2010 - 2:50pm

BATON ROUGE, La (LSU) – By giving up his 11th birthday party, Christian Sexton, a fourth grader at the LSU Laboratory School, has inspired the Baton Rouge community to adopt families in need for Christmas.

“My sister Caroline and my mom were talking about adopting a family, and I couldn’t decide what to do for my birthday party this year,” said Sexton. “So I thought it would be a good idea to adopt a family instead.”

Instead of buying a birthday cake, presents, and decorations, the Sextons printed a “No Birthday Party Celebration” invitation, asking Sexton’s friends for gift cards to help him adopt a family selected through Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Baton Rouge, or Catholic Charities.

Sexton said that at first his friends “didn’t like the idea of not coming to a cool party, but they came around when I told them I was helping a family and it would go to a good cause. My friends are very generous.”

The story spread from his friends and family to his classroom grade, and the entire K – 12th grade Lab School community. Soon, gift cards were being donated from classrooms and teachers. Other Lab School families, faculty, and clubs, including the varsity cheerleading squad, adopted their own families because they were inspired by Sexton.

“One in every four children in East Baton Rouge Parish lives in poverty,” said David Aguillard, executive director for Catholic Charities. “Their parents struggle every day just to keep the lights on and the rent paid. Most have jobs but don’t earn enough for the simple gifts of Christmas.

“Christian and the students at the University Laboratory School whom he inspired have now brought Catholic Charities closer to accomplishing our vision that Santa will arrive for those families who live in poverty in our community,” Aguillard added.

Christian’s sister Caroline, a Lab School alumna, is an LSU junior majoring in sociology with a criminology concentration and a business minor. An LSU Golden Girl, she is also committed to community service, having supported Catholic Charities, Glory House, the Mid City Dance Project, the Refuge, St. Aloysius Church and other nonprofit organizations and churches since she was a young child.

“I am so proud of my brother,” said Caroline Sexton. “But more than that, I am truly amazed by him. He is so young to have made the decision to do this. A lot of children and adults think it’s cool to do things like this, but when it comes right down to the sacrifice, they often change their minds. Christian has shown us that there is always a way to help others. You just have to have the desire. “He has certainly inspired me to do even more!”

Christian’s mother took him shopping on Dec. 10 for his personally adopted family, a mother and son. Christian bought the family the gifts on their list.

“They had a really short list,” he said. “The boy only asked for four things, so I got a few surprises for him.”

“I can’t imagine someone not having a good Christmas, so I wanted to be sure this family had one,” Sexton added. “I think waking up on Christmas morning should be magical and not sad and scary. I think not having things on Christmas morning would make the reality of not having things all the time feel even worse.”

Of more than 700 qualifying families, 70 are still in need of assistance.

“I feel bad for those that went without being adopted,” said Sexton. “I hope someone reading this story will contact Catholic Charities and make a donation so they can have a good Christmas. If people just took their time to look around and help others, this world would be a lot better.”

“Because of the unselfish act of this one little boy, now several families will have a Merry Christmas,” said Aguillard. “Christian is an amazing kid!”

For more information about Catholic Charities, visit www.CatholicCharitiesBR.org.

The LSU Laboratory School is a unit of the LSU College of Education. For more information about the Lab School, visit www.uhigh.lsu.edu.

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