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Tigard-Tualatin Caring Closet got stuffed this year

Deer Creek third-graders win schoolwide competition
by: Barbara Sherman, HEAVY LIFTING — During Deer Creek Elementary's turn to

Students at Deer Creek Elementary in King City went all out for the third annual Stuff the Bus campaign held April 27 for the Caring Closet that provides clothes, hygiene products and household items to needy families in the Tigard-Tualatin School District.

"We had a great time with this program," said parent coordinator Carol Diforio.

The drive was run by the fifth-grade Ambassadors, a group of 40-plus students who volunteer to help out on a broad range of school projects, including the Caring Closet can drive earlier this year, the Science Fair, Art Night and other events.

"The Ambassadors determined who their various audiences were for the project - students, parents and teachers," Diforio said. "They then wrote appropriate materials to reach them with information, including newsletter articles, website articles and morning announcements.

"They also developed all of the creative elements, including signs for the collection boxes and posters. The most notable element was a jingle that they wrote which was used for the morning announcements - every kid in the school knew it before the campaign was over!"

Mid-way through the collection, which went from April 9 to 24, the donations were not very substantial, so the Ambassadors decided to "motivate" students by greeting them at the collection boxes in the morning and handing out stickers, plus the Ambassadors wore hang-tags saying, "Ask me about Stuff the Bus," according to Diforio.

"We collected more than 1,650 items," she said. "Included in that total were more than 380 rolls of toilet paper and more than 250 bars or bottles of soap. Toothbrushes and shampoo were big winners as well.

"Our third-graders won an extra recess for bringing in the most donations - their grade donated more than 600 items!"

Diforio is very proud of the Deer Creek students, especially the fifth-grade Ambassadors who were hands-on during the whole process, doing all the planning and work during their lunchtimes and recesses.

"It was successful in two ways," she said. "First, it elevated the awareness of community needs and then met those needs.

'And secondly, the students created a sense of 'team' within the school by preparing and implementing a campaign where they made decisions, took action, recognized and solved problems, and motivated hundreds of kids to support them."

Springtime is when the school recruits current fourth-graders to be Ambassadors for the next year, so their high visibility in April as they worked on the Caring Closet project made the recruitment process a whole lot easier, according to Diforio.

Everyone should want to be an Ambassador.