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Loyal students show they know how to give, too

With the hustle and bustle of winter activities and preparations for Christmas well underway, students at the Loyal Elementary School took a few moments of their time every day last week to give to the people and animals in need this holiday season. By the time the week ended, those little moments they took out of their day had accumulated into 1,428 donations for the Loyal Food Pantry and the Clark County Humane Society.

Elementary principal Nancy Popp led the initiative behind the school’s first Christmas Drive, which was held on the school grounds in place of the annual Christmas Store event that had been held during that same week for a number of years (please see related story on page 7). Looking for something different to do, she said the idea of a drive for food and pet items came up and that was the direction they decided to go.

“We just thought it was time to try something different,” she said. “There’s a lot of new staff now and my responsibility is to try this and be successful at something else.”

To start on that path of success, Popp said she and members of the staff began to look for ways to make a drive like the one they were attempting, appealing to the elementary students. Creating goals and a general theme for the drive were very important, establishing the uniformity needed to guide the students and give them incentive to participate.

“Well, Pinterest is wonderful, it’s always helpful in figuring out how to do a food drive decent,” she said. “Terri Aumann thought of the theme, this elf theme, and we established a goal, a midweek and end-week goal. It’s been really good.”

For their goals, Popp said they decided students should bring in 350 items for either the Loyal Food Pantry or the Clark County Humane Society by Wednesday, and a total of 800 items by the end of the week. Initially, she said they wanted the goals to be higher for the students, but decided to bring them down to more achievable expectations.

“We said at first, ‘Let’s shoot for the moon,’ but then said ‘Let’s be realistic,’ and pulled it back,” she said. “We don’t want to make it not achievable, we made them a lot lower. We thought, ‘What would be a good start for a drive?’” In the end, the Loyal students sur- passed both goals and raised a total of 1,428 items for the Food Pantry and Humane Society. For each goal surpassed during the week, the children were rewarded, first with milk and cookies on Wednesday and with a movie on Friday.

The elementary students were not the only students involved with the drive during the week. Members of the Loyal senior class also joined in, volunteering during their first hour of class as elves to pick up items from each classroom and hand out suckers to the children who took the time to donate an item.

“I have just seniors that I teach this year,” said Popp on how she got the senior class involved. “I had thought, ‘What can we do for elves?’ I mentioned this in class and they jumped at the chance and volunteered. I’m so happy and impressed with them. It helps a lot.”

This help extends to all of the students in the elementary school, who Popp said showed their commitment to the community — and in turn, to their own classmates — by participating in the drive. Many kids don’t often think of the struggles of poverty, even though in Loyal, she said many of those same kids experience it and try to hide it.

“As an educator, what’s shocked me is how many kids need help,” she said. “This is a close community, we want to help them without them feeling bad. If you start to look it up, I think it’s ironic that Wisconsin gets overlooked. Everyone jumps over Wisconsin, even the weather forecasters. We’re important too, we have a lot of needs. If you look at poverty levels, we are in a place that people can use a little help.”