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Whether it’s Mansfield on the north end of Piatt County or Atwood and Cerro Gordo to the south, area schools are all doing their part to make the holidays more joyful for their communities.
Take the Pajamas for Preschoolers effort that was initiated this year by the Monticello Middle School Student Council. As with most holiday campaigns, it came out of an observed need.
“The preschool teachers had mentioned that when they had a day where students could wear pajamas, they noticed some students might have a need for a new warm pair of winter pajamas,” said Student Council Advisor Christy Benedict.
With the help of fundraisers and donations, all 47 preschool children will receive not only fresh sleepwear, but a book, a healthy snack, and an educational game. The effort concludes this week when student council members make a trip to Lincoln Elementary School to spend some one-on-one time with preschoolers there.
“They wanted a hands-on experience in giving,” said Benedict of the middle school students. “That was another reason to do something locally.”
Student Council members helped raise money by selling 50-cent Holiday Grams during lunch hours at the middle school.
A Fannie May candy fund-raiser netted over $2,000 for the Bement Middle and High School student councils, which they are turning into gifts for families in that town.
“This project teaches the students that the real world is not always an easy place, and if people are fortunate enough to have a community that cares, things might just work out,” said BMS/HS Student Council Advisor Stephani Witts.
“They also learn the joy of giving, even if they do not have the satisfaction of knowing exactly who they help,” she added.
Monticello’s three elementary schools help hundreds of students each year with an Angel Tree program, and 2012 was no different, fulfilling over 400 wishes for families in need.
“We also had a food and supply drive for the Piatt County Ecumenical Food Pantry,” said Emily Weidner, principal of Monticello’s White Heath Elementary School. “All of our efforts will wrap up before we leave for break Dec. 21.”
In Cerro Gordo, elementary school students combined efforts with the local American Legion to provide 10 food baskets to residents of the school district. The legion donated five hams and five turkeys, and students collected 250 cans of food. Extras went to food pantries.
Baskets were delivered this week, and students celebrated with a cup of hot chocolate and the right to wear slippers at school on Friday.
Students at Atwood-Hammond are taking the direct approach, donating money directly to an Angel Tree. Donations were taken through Dec. 14, and gifts are being purchased and delivered to recipients this week.
In Mansfield, fifth-grade teacher Amanda Walters has encouraged her students to bring in food, which will go toward local food baskets.
All in all, it’s been a very giving holiday season at local schools.
“My students never cease to impress me with their generosity,” commented Witts.
Benedict whole-heartedly agrees.
“Our middle school student council members had a great desire to do something for young people right here in our area,” she said.