A group of junior high students from Thomas More Prep-Marian set out to spread holiday cheer Tuesday afternoon, delivering poinsettia plants to assist the Hays Kiwanis Club.

Some of the traditional holiday flowers were so tall the students had difficulty seeing over the top of the plants as they fulfilled orders placed by several local businesses.

Eighth-grader Madelyn Seiler has participated in the Natural Helpers group service project the last two years and said the activity helps set the mood for the holidays.

“It was really fun last year,” she said as she prepared to help load a school bus with flowers to deliver. “It was cool to go to different places and deliver.”

The Hays Kiwanis Club has been selling the Christmas plants as an annual fundraiser for at least the last 20 years. Approximately 360 plants were ordered in the Hays community, said Margaret Gabelmann, president-elect of the Hays Kiwanis Club.

Orders could be placed during about a six-week time period from October to Thanksgiving, and the plants were delivered to Hays by Stutzman’s Greenhouse on Tuesday morning. Approximately 20 Kiwanis members volunteered to help deliver the flowers, with the assistance of two TMP school buses full of students.

“It gets them in the holiday spirit; it is a festive thing,” Gabelmann said. “They are just really beautiful plants, and it also is giving back to your community.”

All proceeds benefit several Hays organizations that support youth activities, including CASA of the High Plains, First Call for Help, Hays Arts Council, Girl Scouts, Boy Scouts, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Special Olympics and the Hays Area Children’s Center.

Customers could choose between red, white or speckled flowers, and the club often sees many customers and businesses who buy every year for holiday decorations or presents, Gabelmann said.

Among this year’s repeat customers was Dave Werth, owner of Hays Car & Truck Alignment, 710 E. Eighth. He purchased 19 plants to give as holiday gifts for employees, friends and family members.

The front lobby of the business was nearly full of poinsettias, as students filed in to deliver the festive foliage.

“Every year we do this,” Werth said.

TMP students jumped at the opportunity to help, said Theresa Clark, the junior high counselor and sponsor of the Natural Helpers club. Students in the club are selected by the study body to provide peer support.

“It’s a wonderful opportunity for our students to get out into their community,” Clark said.