Kids remind principal of how they see holidays
As an adult, this time of year is super stressful. Buying gifts, making cookies, and planning travel all need to be done along with all the normal tasks. The result is that at the time of year when we all need a little kindness, we often feel more like being a grinch. Being around students all day, however, puts things in a different perspective. I was always taught that the holidays were about giving rather than receiving, so this year, I needed to go back to that lesson and see how the holidays look through the eyes of the children.
The school has collected funds for the Loyal Food Pantry for years and I knew that we wanted to continue this tradition, but we added a new twist this year and included the Clark County Humane Society in our efforts, too. Many themes were discussed for the donation drive and we finally settled on Christmas elves. The plan was that each day of the week from Dec. 2-6, students from the senior English classes could volunteer to dress as elves and drive a decorated cart around the elementary school to collect items. Every time a student brought a donation, they would receive a sucker. If the students could collect 350 items, then I would supply a cookies and milk treat for all the elementary students. If they reached a goal of 800 items, they would earn a popcorn party and movie. On the last day of the week, all students K-12 could also participate in a final activity where anyone who brought in a dollar could wear their favorite school-appropriate hat for the day. The plans were set, the directions were explained, announcements were made, and a letter was sent home asking for the assistance from the parents/ community. Nothing was left to do but wait and see if we would be successful.
Over Thanksgiving vacation, I spent a lot of time wondering if we had everything prepared and hoping that we would be successful in our bid to help the community. Monday morning came and while the elves got ready, I held my breath. As the elves went down the halls, many excited faces came to the classroom doors eager to fill the cart. The elementary students loved seeing the elves and the elves were happy to take pictures with the students and distribute treats. I started to breathe a bit easier when we collected 102 items.
Each passing day, the students were more excited and so were the elves. After just two days, the students had collected 350 items and had reached their first goal. So, Tuesday night after school, I gathered some very special helpers who volunteered their time to help me bake 300 chocolate chip cookies. On Wednesday morning our pickup cart got fancier, thanks to Mrs. Aumann, and more elves joined the group. Mrs. Claus visited along with the elves and delivered cookies and milk to all the elementary students. The elves collected 203 more items to help our community. Now the smiles and pride in the students was really starting to shine. They loved Mrs. Claus and they were enjoying the spirit of giving.
Our next goal was 800 items, and with the generosity displayed the first three days, I was pretty sure that this goal was also within reach. On Thursday morning the elves set out on their trek and about halfway through they needed a second cart. When I got back to my classroom, I couldn’t believe my eyes. There were 431 items collected in ONE DAY!!! The fifth-grade classes had challenged each other, and they came through big time. I was so proud of everyone. In just four days they had surpassed the goal of collecting 800 items for the food pantry and the Humane Society. I couldn’t wait to announce to the students what they had achieved, and they reacted with a cheer so loud that it could be heard ringing down the halls to the elementary offi ce. The students had earned their second goal of a popcorn party and movie by bringing in a total of 984 items. On Friday, as the elves and I prepared to make our final visit to the classrooms, I found myself holding my breath again, but this time for a different reason; I couldn’t wait to see how the students would surprise me today. Students met us at the door eager to place their items in the collection boxes. The ear-toear smiles and the huge hugs were worth all the work that it took to prepare for this activity. When the final count was tabulated, the Loyal Elementary School students had collected another 396 items, which included the donations from our end of the week hat day activity. At next week’s holiday concert, the Loyal students will be donating 1,134 items to the food pantry or Humane Society, along with a $75 check to the Humane Society and $219 check to the Loyal Food Pantry!!! This activity was a bigger success than I could have ever hoped for and it is all because I live in a town like Loyal. Thank you to everyone at school who helped, especially the elves and Terri Aumann and her family. And a HUGE thank you to all the students and their families for caring so much about others. Thank you for giving me a chance to see the joy of giving through the eyes of child. Happy Holidays!!!