by Cori Hilsgen
Students at Kennedy Community School, St. John’s Prep and St. Joseph Catholic School donated their time and talent to help fill area needs this holiday season.
Kennedy Community School WE ACT students, co-advised by teachers Mike Stuber and Kelli Maurer, organized a toy drive to collect toys for the local Toys for Tots.
Students from all grades donated 137 toys after Thanksgiving through Dec. 7. The older grades competed to see which advisory group could bring in the most items. Stuber’s advisory group won with 31 toys.
Toys were collected at the beginning of December to ensure items could be picked up, delivered and wrapped for children who would receive them for the Christmas holiday.
Eighth-grader Ashley Kockler donated 31 toys to the drive.
“I brought a lot of toys for the toy drive because I believe it was a nice thing to do,” she said.
“I think that the Toys for Tots drive is a great opportunity for our students to be able to give back to the community that helps them so much throughout the year,” Maurer said.
“Our WE ACT students focus on improving the community around them, whether at Kennedy, in St. Joseph, or across the globe,” said Principal Laurie Putnam. “This December, they gathered toys for families in need of a little extra help this holiday season. I’m so proud of their civic spirit and generosity.”
St. John’s Prep seventh- and eighth-graders recently spread some holiday cheer while they learned about auctioneering and raised funds for Anna Marie’s Alliance.
The 62 students raised $1,612 in a one-hour “white elephant” auction Dec. 13 to buy gifts for families at the shelter.
Students brought wrapped gifts to the auction, indicating if it was for a boy, girl or either.
Auctioneer Col. Frank Imholte, of Black Diamond Auctions, donated his time to lead the bidding process. He taught students how to bid in an auction and to think about their purchase before raising their hands. Students then bid on gifts not knowing the contents of the gift.
“It’s fun to raise your paddle for stuff, even if you don’t know what’s in the bag,” said eighth-grader Sam Rosenbloom, daughter of Glenn Werner from St. Joseph, who bought a cake pop maker, chocolate and soda can fizzy candy. “There’s a lot of energy during the auction, there’s always a lot of energy in our middle school.”
St. John’s Prep middle school science teacher Bob Ellenbecker, from St. Joseph, said the auction is a lot of fun because the students enjoy the auction atmosphere.
“The mystery of the wrapped gifts and gift bags make it very exciting,” he said.” They don’t know what they are going to get.”
Ellenbecker said the students recognize why it’s important to help Anna Marie’s and know it’s an important cause they are supporting.
Proceeds from the auction were used to fill the wish lists of two families at Anna Marie’s Alliance. Students shopped with the wish lists to find presents to help those families have a better Christmas. Gifts on the wish lists included clothing, toiletries, toys and electronics.
St. Joseph Catholic School students shared the spirit of Christmas with the school’s annual Advent boxes service project.
Students collected and filled shoeboxes with donated items and gave the boxes to Place of Hope Ministries in St. Cloud, an organization that helps homeless people in the area.
Second-grade teacher Betty Pundsack has helped coordinate the project for many years.
Items were collected in bins during the school’s common prayer times during the season of Advent, or the four weeks before Christmas.
During the final week of school before Christmas, students put the items into shoeboxes according to age/gender groups. The shoeboxes were then delivered to Place of Hope Ministries in time for distribution during the Children of Hope Christmas program.
Anna Marie’s Alliance provides safety for battered women and children in a nine-county region of Stearns, Benton, Sherburne, Chisago, Isanti, Kanabec, Mille Lacs, Pine and Wright counties.
Place of Hope serves people in need in the Tri-County area. Place of Hope works to help rebuild, repair and restore lives by helping provide meals, housing, “hope” and other services for those in need.