Each year, the collects toys for the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots program. This year, it had some extra help.
The fourth graders at – led by teachers Christine Marshall and Nancy Connelly – collected over 180 toys to donate.
“I am thrilled that Christine wanted to participate in our toy drive and was shocked when I heard about all the toys they collected,” firefighter Susan Trisler said. “It is very heartwarming to have children not only want to participate, but understand the reason why we do projects like this around the holidays. It is the giving, not receiving that makes your heart smile!”
Marshall said that the classes did some research before their drive – which lasted about a week and a half.
“Both fourth grade classes went on to Toys for Tots official Web site and researched some background information together so the children could understand how this wonderful organization came to be and what their objectives are,” she said.
She said that the students used the links provided on the site to research such facts as who started it, how the Marine reserves run it each year with the help of the local communities, and what Toys for Tots mission is.
“They learned how the idea all came from a Marine’s wife who made a doll and wanted to donate it to an organization to give to a needy child, yet there was no such organization at the time,” she said. “We felt it was important for them to understand this all started by the generosity of one person.”
The students also learned interesting facts such as why only new toys are donated now but that wasn’t always the case. Marshall said that there was a little history learned about how the reserves were called to be more active in their units and were not able to refurbish toys any longer.
“They could definitely relate to what it was like to get hand me downs and appreciating brand new toys,” she said.
Most importantly, Marshall said, the students learned how Toys for Tots is trying to send a message of hope to children in need everywhere.
After the students finished the research, they launched a toy drive by creating signs to post all over school and talking it up amongst the student body.
“We even used our graphing skills to create bar and point graphs to keep track of our progress,” Marshall said.
In a small school with only a little over 200 students, the response was huge.
“We are a small school, but really came together to hopefully put smiles on children’s faces this holiday,” Marshall said. “We are very proud of our school community!”
On Friday afternoon, Trisler and fellow firefighter John Wrynn – who is also a former Marine – collected the toys from the children. They thanked the children and told them what an outstanding job they did.
“The Marine Corps has a saying that things are outstanding when they are the best they can be,” Wrynn said. “And this is outstanding.”
Also on Friday, a donation was made by the . The Missions Board donated $300 and board member Cheryl Dinse hand delivered it. The money will go to Toys for Tots at the national level where it will then be dispersed to areas of need.
In addition to the students and the church, donations were also made by .
“Bryan Harvell, our Deputy Chief, is part owner of Casey's and puts a Toys for Tots box in his restaurant,” Trisler said. “They filled the box three times already!”
in Storrs also collected toys for the drive.
The last pickup for the drive will be Thursday.