Cannon School students carefully stacked wrapped presents on several tables in the school's gym last week.
But it was no use. One of the piles - stacked twice as tall as many of the students contributing to the heap of gifts - toppled over, sending laughing students scrambling to pick them up and try again.
Hundreds of gifts were presented to local charities as part of Project Wrap-In, the school's third annual event in which students donate and wrap gifts for needy children.
Katherine LeClair, a fifth-grader from Concord, said the project is a fun way to help children.
"Knowing that makes you feel much better," said Katherine, who wore a Christmas tree shirt and jingle bell necklace for the occasion.
Wearing Santa hats, bells and long, striped Christmas socks, students were paired with other students from different grades to wrap the $5-$15 gifts.
Vanessa Vaccaro, a sophomore from Concord, helped fifth-graders Matthew Chaiken and Dalton Phillips wrap toys.
"I love doing this," she said as she reached for scissors.
She donated a board game.
"I used to play it when I was little," she said.
The gifts will be distributed to children by the Ada Jenkins Center, the Salvation Army, Big Brothers Big Sisters and Iredell County Department of Social Services' program for foster children.
Head of School Matt Gossage said the event is an opportunity for the students to interact with each other and understand that they can help less fortunate families.
"It's really powerful to hear stories from these agencies," he said. "We should do things where kids can learn from each other."
The school's jazz band and a dance class performed at an assembly in which representatives from the agencies receiving the gifts thanked students for their donations.
Melinda Johnson, a commanding officer of the Salvation Army of Cabarrus and Stanly counties, said the organization will serve 964 families and 2,698 children in Cabarrus and Stanly counties this Christmas.
About 100 new families have asked for help during the holidays this year, she said.
"Many have never had to ask for help before," she said.
The Salvation Army will provide them with food and toys for children.
"This year the need is so great," she said. "These presents will help tremendously."