Diboll ISD held its eighth annual Hugs and Mugs event all day Wednesday in the administration building.

Community members, staff and students were welcome to stop by for a warm cup of wassail with breakfast, lunch or dessert.

Diboll ISD Superintendent Gary Martel started Hugs and Mugs his first year as a superintendent to get the community more involved with the district.

“This is a great community event,” he said. “It pulls our community together during the holiday season and provides a great chance to socialize. Also, we try to tell our staff every day that we appreciate them and this is just another way that we show them we are thankful for their hard work.

“The administration has an open-door policy, and we’ve worked very hard to let the community know that,” he added.

Diboll ISD accountant LeaAnn Hendrick said everybody has enjoyed coming to this event for years. 

“Our teachers come over on their conference periods, community members stop by and everybody gets a mug,” LeaAnn Hendrick said. “Every year we order more and more mugs, and every year we run out.”

By noon, only 150 mugs were left of the 500 that were ordered.

Culinary students made most of the desserts and served the food, and floral arrangements made by students were displayed.

“There’s more to school than just testing and homework,” Martel said. “There has to be. We are trying to build those social skills and the importance of giving back to the community. So we wanted to showcase the kids.”

Culinary teacher Jennifer Garcia said the students learn a lot from participating in events like this. 

“It really works on their soft skills,” she said. “They better their communication and learn time management, food safety and teamwork. They work together really well. I’ve got a great group.”

Diboll High School band students played Christmas carols for attendees.

“I’m so proud of my students,” said Joey Acker, band director. “They do great. We are excited to get out and show what we have accomplished while sharing the season with everybody.”

At the event with her Pre-K 4 dual language Diboll Primary students, teacher Lesley Scott thanked the district for putting the event on.

“The students love to come,” she said. “It means a lot to our kids and to us to be appreciated in this way and celebrate Christmas.”

Martel said the event could not have been pulled off without the help of many.

He thanked the sponsors — Starbucks, Tome Catering and Texas Custom Catering — and sent a “thanks to our auxiliary staff, administrative staff and everyone in the district that continues to make it wonderful.”

Stephanie Stevens’ email address is sstevens@lufkindailynews.com.