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Examiner
  • Students learn how much fun giving can be

  • Students at Prairie Branch Elementary in Grain Valley have discovered that it is better to give than receive this holiday season.


    “It’s a lot more fun to buy toys for someone else,” said Caleb Lehmann, a third grader a the school. “It’s a lot more fun to buy for someone other than yourself.”

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  • Students at Prairie Branch Elementary in Grain Valley have discovered that it is better to give than receive this holiday season.
    “It’s a lot more fun to buy toys for someone else,” said Caleb Lehmann, a third grader a the school. “It’s a lot more fun to buy for someone other than yourself.”
    Third, fourth and fifth grader members of the school’s Student Council purchased more than $800 worth of toys last week for the Toys for Tots program. Toys for Tots began in 1947 when Major Bill Hendricks and a group of Marine Reservists in Los Angeles collected and gave away 5,000 toys for children in need. The program was so successful in its first year that the U.S. Marine Corps adopted the Toys for Tots program in 1948, expanding it nationwide. Since the beginning of the program, the Marines have distributed more than 452 million toys to more than 209 million needy children. In addition, the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation has supplemented local toy collections with more than 98 million toys.
    Tammera Lewis, one of the Student Council sponsors at Prairie Branch, said the school was contacted by the Jackson County Toys for Tots coordinator William Mathieson about being a collection site. After agreeing, she said they started brainstorming about how else to become involved with the program.
    “Our student council tends to focus on community service-oriented projects. However, this is the first time we have completed a project of this nature,” she said. “It is really important to get students in the habit of being charitable, and elementary school is a great time for students to begin forming their ideas about helping others. Helping others can foster a sense of empowerment in kids. I think since we went beyond just simply placing a collection box in our school, we demonstrated to the school and community that we truly value helping others.”
    Lewis said the student council had money from previous fundraisers and was able to budget $250 to purchase toys. Mathieson was invited along on the Wal-Mart shopping trip and added another $550 in cash donations. Finally, Wal-Mart in Blue Springs donated a $100 gift toward the purchases.
    “Toys for Tots' greatest need in this area is the 8 to 10 year range, so that is how we focused our shopping. This worked out perfectly, because this was fairly close to the age range of the kids that were shopping,” Lewis said. “Students were encouraged to choose toys they might like to receive.
    Popular items were Bey Blades, Angry Birds-themed items (like an Angry Birds hot wheels track) and Monster High dolls. Students were given a budget of $15 for their first pick and $20 for their second pick. Students shopped keeping in mind both their budget and the age range of the kiddos we were buying for.”
    Page 2 of 2 - After the shopping trip, the Prairie Branch students were invited to see the Toys for Tots Distribution Center at Richards-Gebauer Air Force Base. Gunnery Sgt. James Rollins and Master Sgt. Bruce Thompson gave the students a tour after they were able to hand deliver the toys they had purchased.
    “It was fun to tour the center on a military base,” said Isaac Charpie, a Prairie Branch third grader. “And we got to help people too.”
    Stacy Brown, a co-sponsor of the Student Council, said it was an “eye-opening experience” to visit the distribution center.
    “The kids were as equally humbled as we were. They were shown the process from start to finish – buying the toys, then moving on to sorting the toys, followed by how the toys are matched to kids in need. It will be something that they remember for the rest of their lives,” she said. “The kids were in awe of the military personnel that explained the process to us and really looked up to them for their service to our country as well as their dedication to Toys for Tots and children in need.”
     
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