Sandy Students Help Make Holiday Season Brighter for Others
By Julie Slama
Sandy - Warm clothing, food, stuffed animals, books and toys were being shared with those less fortunate this holiday season, thanks to Sandy school children.
Several local schools were collecting warm winter clothing, such as hats, gloves and socks. With a goal of having 600 sets to deliver to local families, students brought in donations between Nov. 2 and Dec. 11.
“I hope our students learn about the importance of generosity and kindness,” principal Tracy Stacy said. “We decided to help because the families and school would like to continue to support their former principal McKay Robinson in his new assignment. We wanted to be able to help the families at his new school.”
Silver Mesa students were collecting hats as part of their “Hats on for Kids” project, where they hoped to gather hats from Nov. 1 through Dec. 15 to donate to Primary Children’s Hospital.
Silver Mesa also held its annual food drive where they matched last year’s donation of 2,000 cans. The canned goods that were gathered the week of Nov. 16 were donated to the Utah Food Bank, which estimates one in every five Utah children are not sure where their next meal is coming from, and one in seven Utahns are at risk of missing a meal each day.
In November, Brookwood students donated canned goods for the Utah Food Bank, surpassing their goal of six barrels by filling eight barrels with non-perishable food items.
“This service learning project encourages students to learn about hunger issues in their own community,” principal Corrie Barrett said.
Crescent Elementary School will hold its annual drive for the Utah Food Bank this spring, but during the holidays, student leaders hoped students would gather 700 stuffed animals for their fourth annual Teddy Bear Drive.
“We wanted a fundraiser that the kids could relate to, and that most could participate in,” principal Mindy Robison said. “We hope students gain a feeling of compassion and empathy for others. It’s nice for them to think of someone else besides themselves.”
The stuffed animals that the students gathered from Nov. 30 through Dec. 15 were given to the Bank of American Fork, which then delivered them to the Utah Valley Family Support & Treatment Center, Salt Lake Valley Family Support Center and Family Connection Center to help children through crisis and trying times.
Several schools started new service projects to help those outside their immediate communities, such as when Park Lane Elementary’s Parent-Teacher Association spearheaded its holiday service project of collecting craft supplies, toys and sporting goods for LifeStart Village that assists single mothers to being self-sufficient and move into safe, stable housing to provide a nurturing environment for their children.
Students also donated elementary reading level books for International Rescue Committee, which, during crises, helps to restore health, safety, education and economic well being.
“It was chosen … as something that could benefit the community at this time, and would be something our students and families would appreciate donating to,” principal Justin Jeffrey said.
Oakdale Elementary teamed up with Miss Sandy Ellie Robinson, a former student, to collect 500 pairs of shoes as part of “Warm the Sole” for Africa through the organization Power 2 Become.
“We decided to help Warm the Sole because the shoes are given to the African people to provide protection against parasites, and the shoes that are unwearable are sold,” principal Kierstin Draper said. “The money is then used to build wells and soy farms to help them become self sustainable. We hope our students realize the power they have to make a difference in the lives of those outside of our community through charity. It will also help for them to see that there are others who have life circumstances causing them to have a high level of need, and that though we are far away, we can do our part and help.”
Albion Middle School student leaders organized students to collect more than 400 toys for the Toys for Tots Drive.
“These donations will benefit kids around the state of Utah who are from low income families, and will provide Christmas presents to them,” Principal Darrell Jensen said. “We chose to help Toys for Tots because we had some student body officers with some personal connections with the charity. We hope that students learn the importance of hard work, but also learn compassion and how to help their fellow human beings.”
In December, the school’s chapter of National Junior Honor Society also donated a decorated tree to the Festival of Trees that benefits Primary Children’s Hospital. The tree focused on the theme from the game Candyland.
“It was really exciting to see the kids work so hard and put together their efforts for such a great cause,” Jensen said.
Albion students also donated to Sunrise Elementary students with their annual December cereal drive, donating 2,300 boxes.
Jordan High students also helped fellow students in December when they raised money through an annual dodge ball tournament, selling T-shirts, holding a penny war and accepting donations for Jordan Valley to purchase “Eagle Eyes” systems that assist their students, student government advisor Carrie Earl said.
Many of the Jordan Valley students have severe multiple disabilities, including autism, cerebral palsy, traumatic brain injury, seizure disorders, communication impairments, genetic disorders and syndromes, deaf–blindness and students who are extremely medically fragile.
Some Jordan Valley students have a difficulty in communication, so with the funds donated to purchase Eagle Eyes — a device the size of a DVD case that is plugged into a computer that tracks the electrodes placed by the students’ heads, which monitor their responses when they move their eyes — and volunteer help from Jordan High students, Jordan Valley students are able to communicate better, executive director and founder Debbie Inkley said.
“‘Eagle Eyes’ shows how smart they are and how they can show cause and effect, demonstrate how things are connected and how they can make choices when they understand something,” Jordan Valley teacher Kat Winch said.
It’s also about giving of themselves and forming a friendship between students at the two schools, Inkley said.
“Part of the magic is with these high school students. Jordan Valley students are gaining more than extra helpers; they’re realizing these peers can be their friends, and most of those students don’t have many friends,” she said. “And Jordan high schoolers are learning to appreciate these students, realizing they are very bright, but just locked up in their bodies.”
Two schools reached out to help the Leukemia and Lymphoma Association.
At Union Middle School, students held a penny war to help the association for the second year.
“The negative effects of cancer touch everyone in some way,” principal Kelly Tauteoli said. “In that way it’s a cause that each student has a connection to. [hopfully uniting the] school to support a cause brings a sense of community and teaches students empathy for others.”
Sandy Elementary collected more than $2,800 for Pennies for Patients, $800 more than last year, as part of their fifth annual drive to help kids who have blood cancer, fifth-grade teacher Jacinda Meranda said.
“We decided to help this organization because the money goes to help kids like our students,” Meranda said. “Every year we do this project just before Thanksgiving break, because we feel like it helps our students feel thankful for their health and for all of the blessings that they have in their lives.”
She said that they tie their donations into their classroom curriculum by asking students to graph how much money they raise.
“Every year we hope that our students will learn to help other people. We want them to feel successful by setting goals, throughout our two-week collection period. When they reach their goals they get rewards. This year, when our students raised $1,500, our principal, McKay Robinson, was turned into a human ice cream sundae. A representative from each grade level class that raised the most money got to pour a topping onto him. We hope that our students learn that helping others is fun,” Meranda said.