Khalid delivers presents to El Paso elementary students

Khalid, center, hands out presents at Crockett Elementary School in El Paso on Monday. His mother, retired Sgt. 1st Class Linda Wolfe, a former vocalist with the 1st Armored Division Band, stands to the left. Photos by Alicia Chumley, EPISD.

Khalid, center, hands out presents at Crockett Elementary School in El Paso on Monday. His mother, retired Sgt. 1st Class Linda Wolfe, a former vocalist with the 1st Armored Division Band, stands to the left. Photos by Alicia Chumley, EPISD.

By Alicia Chumley, El Paso Independent School District:

(El Paso, Texas, Dec. 14, 2017)

Singer and El Paso-favorite artist Khalid had a special “Location” Monday morning: Crockett Elementary School in El Paso.

The Grammy-nominated artist took time from his busy schedule to stop by the school and hand-deliver more than 500 gifts – one for every student at Crockett. His mother, retired Sgt. 1st Class Linda Wolfe, a former vocalist with the 1st Armored Division Band, organized the event.

Khalid said it meant the world to him to come back to El Paso and give out gifts to children.

Khalid, right, hands out presents at Crockett Elementary School in El Paso on Monday. His mother, retired Sgt. 1st Class Linda Wolfe, a former vocalist with the 1st Armored Division Band, stands next to him.

“I feel like this is definitely a home for me so to see the smiles on all the kids’ faces when I gave them all the gifts is something I will carry with me wherever I go,” he said.

The visit was a surprise to the students, who were told to gather in the historic auditorium of the school for a special guest. When Principal Elco Ramos asked them to guess who it was, the excited students chanted: Santa!

The chants turned to shrieks of excitement as the crowd recognized the “American Teen” artist when the curtains of the stage were drawn to reveal him.

“You can see the humility in him and the love and wanting to give back to the community,’’ Ramos said. “Our kids were very excited to see him, and we are truly appreciative what he’s done for our school.”

Wolfe said she organized the event after calling around looking for the perfect school. She said Crockett’s student body is what her son liked the best.

“Ms. Wolfe reached out to me after Thanksgiving break. I wasn’t expecting that call,” counselor Beatrice Garza said. “It was really hard to keep it a surprise. There were just five of us that knew. We tried to honor his mother’s wishes because they really wanted it to be more about the kids, not about him.”

The students certainly were surprised and excited.

Fifth-grader America Martinez was overcome with tears when she saw him on stage.

“I was so surprised. It was really exciting to meet him,” she said between sobs. “I think it’s really nice that he came out to see us.”

Khalid’s fame and pop-culture impact was not lost among the students – especially the older ones. A group of fourth-graders sang his hit “Location” while they waited in line to receive a gift from him.

“It says a lot that the kids know who I am because it means the parents are the ones playing the music for the kids, which is super awesome,” Khalid said.

Fifth-grade student Anissa Nevarez couldn’t believe her eyes.

“I was thinking like ‘oh my gosh.’ I can’t believe I am in the same room as him. I never really thought I would meet someone famous,” she said. “I was really excited because he is an inspiration to me because someone from such a small town can have such a big impact on the world.”

Meeting him reaffirmed her admiration for him, not only as a singer but as a person.

“He’s very down to earth. He’s very nice,” Anissa said. “I can’t believe he came and bought us all the presents and gave them to us by hand. I never thought anyone would go that far to make an entire school happy.”

Khalid was all smiles, greeting every single student and even stopping to pose for a couple photos.

“I love the fact that everybody was super thankful,” he said. “This is definitely the first of many. I am so glad I am able to help out El Paso.”