'Tis the season for giving, and Upper Arlington City Schools are doing so in a variety of ways so children and families in need can experience a happier holiday.
Upper Arlington High School's student council collected donations during a holiday drive held during third-period classes last week and raised $3,584.04.
Kim Brown, adviser and social studies teacher, said the students made the collection a contest between classes.
"The winning class gets to decide where to donate the entire sum," she said. "We were so excited by the response. Students and staff really embraced the project and the total collected exceeded our expectations."
She said Jill White's third-period class collected the most, so students in that class will decide where the money will be donated.
Brown said her co-adviser, Karen D'Eramo, and her staff at the Upper Arlington Rise Cafe counted all the money each day.
Greensview Elementary fourth-graders will hold a rockathon again this year, where pledges will be collected for rocking in rocking chairs in the gymnasium. The rockathons is scheduled from 3 to 7 p.m. Dec. 13 at the school, 4301 Greensview Drive.
This year's proceeds will help children being treated for cancer at Nationwide Children's Hospital, and children at the Beechwold Community Center.
Tremont Elementary parent volunteer Darlene Adams said the school collected used toys and outerwear for the second year last week to benefit South Perry United Methodist Church in rural Hocking County.
Adams said she grew up in the church and her sister, Kay Burns, still lives in that area.
"The unemployment in that area is 25 percent higher than in Columbus and about seven out of every 10 kids qualify for free or reduced-price lunches in the federal program," she said. "My sister has been organizing a clothing giveaway there for several years and I had been sending my stuff down there. She said the parents were desperate for toys because they want to give them to their children as Christmas gifts."
Adams said she knew if she asked Tremont parents for toys for the collection, they would purchase them.
"For this toy drive, we needed quantity and the parents came to us with bags and bags of used toys," she said. "We hauled five loads away from Tremont last week. We've gotten child kitchens, Barbie houses, American Girl dolls and accessories and a wonderful quality and quantity of toys.
"People seemed happy that the toys were going to a good cause."
Adams said the toys are cleaned up at the church, then shrink-wrapped into bundles.
She said Upper Arlington paramedic Brian Brown donated toys and drove a load to the church, then told her he was concerned there were no toys for teenagers.
"So he put out the word in his neighborhood that he needed bicycles and, because he worked in a bike store at one time, he was able to fix them up," she said. "He ended up with 10 bicycles to bring down to the church."
Adams also spoke to Tremont third-graders about helping with a national backpack program where students pack small brown bags with granola bars and other small food items for children who might go hungry over the weekend when they have no access to school meal programs.
"Teachers that are aware a child might not be eating much over the weekend can put the little brown bag in the child's backpack on Friday afternoons when they leave school," Adams said. "I think it will mean more to the students if they pack the bags themselves because they understand they are putting food into a bag for a child their age who might be hungry."
She said her sister called her after a recent giveaway of the collected clothing and toys at the South Perry church.
"She told me she spent the day sobbing because it was so joyful to see how grateful parents were when they saw a room full of toys and clothing for their children," Adams said.
Adams and her husband have six children.
"I hope, as a parent, that I am instilling values in my children that will result in a lifetime of giving," she said. "I am so grateful to the Tremont community for being gracious enough to let me hold this collection again this year and I think the students enjoy being a part of it."
Tremont parent Mindy Lively said she was happy the toy drive was such a success.
"I think it is great for our kids who are so privileged to see there are a lot of kids who may not have as much and are so appreciative of whatever they get," she said. "It is so good for our students to understand that it is a year of giving, not just getting."