Published December 22, 2017
The work of the late Stephanie Schachmut is continuing at St. Joseph High School in Conway.
Almost 20 years ago, in 1998, the former religion teacher, who died in 2012, began encouraging her students to buy Christmas presents for needy children in Faulkner County. Grant money was provided from the Robert and Mary Margaret Taylor Foundation, which supports evangelization efforts, in addition to individual student contributions.
Shachmut’s successor, Theresa Lutes, keeps this drive alive with her seventh-, ninth- and 11th- grade classes. She calls her students “Stephanie’s Angels.”
This year, the Department of Child and Family Services provided Lutes a list of eight boys in Faulkner County between the ages of 1-5 who are living in foster care. The wish lists included clothing, books, learning games and bath toys.
Lutes’ students, along with members of St. Joseph’s boys’ basketball team, went shopping for the gifts with funds from the Taylor Foundation and student donations.
The gifts were picked up at the school Dec. 14 by Els Strickland, who worked with Shachmut when her effort started nearly two decades ago. She’s also been a longtime representative of the Children’s Advocacy Alliance of North Central Arkansas.