A group of Grove City High School ceramics students helped provide warmth to those attending the City Lights Ceremony earlier this month by selling pottery cups they made, filled with hot chocolate.
It was almost as warm as the feeling the students received.
They were raising funds through the school's third annual Kups 4 Kids project to support the Grove City-based Stynchula Foundation, which has a mission of raising funds to support the treatment and research for children with autism.
On Dec. 20, the students presented a check for nearly $904 to Dave Stynchula, who started his foundation in 1999 after he and his wife, Valerie, became involved helping a family whose child had autism.
"Our foundation does fundraising and we also do a number of enrichment programs for children with autism," Stynchula said.
The money the GCHS students raised will help pay the cost of a Christmas party the foundation hosted for about 60 youngsters this month at the Nationwide Children Hospital Autism Center in Columbus.
"We had Santa visit and we bought books and stuffed animals for each of the children," Stynchula said. "We had games and booths set up and some craft activities for the children."
The Kups 4 Kids project was started three years ago by art teacher Brian Bosworth, although the genesis of the idea came from a former student.
"He knew that my son had been diagnosed with autism and knew about the things my family was going through," Bosworth said. "He came to me and suggested that maybe my students could be involved in some sort of fundraiser by selling ceramic items they made. It really touched my heart."
Students began working on making cups and trays in October for this year's project, he said.
"I love seeing the look on their faces when they're working the booth and seeing how their effort really affects people," Bosworth said.
The students made about 100 cups this year and sold about half of them, "which is pretty good" for one night, senior Erin Gantz said.
Each cup was made with an individual design created by the student who made it, she said.
"We had a free hand to be as creative as we wanted," junior Adam Rudolph said.
It was gratifying to see how generous people could be, he said.
Although the students were asking for a $7 donation for the cups, "so many people gave a lot more than that," Rudolph said.
"To know you're doing something that benefits others, it makes you feel good," Gantz said.