Students team up to save Christmas for disadvantaged kids

Book reports may be the bane of many students’ existence, but at Horizon Christian Elementary School in Tualatin, one such assignment inspired six students to take action to improve Christmas for less-fortunate families.

After one student summarized the story of children who witness a toy drive while stuck in an airport, six fourth-graders were motivated to raise money for the local Toys for Tots program. Students from Kellie Cox’s class, as well as from the class of Deb Stoner and Kristin Green, saw their project of giving as in line with the Christian focus in their curriculum.

Toys for Tots is a national nonprofit organization that provides low-income children with donated Christmas gifts. The program has been organized and run by the U.S. Marine Corps since 1948, and in 2009, reported that almost 500 million toys had been given to children in its more than 60 years of operation.

HCES’s team — comprised of Tualatin residents Koby Mattila and Autum Allender, as well as Justin Panaitescu from Tigard, Jordan King, Clark Sheehan and Grace Mager — spent two weeks selling hot cocoa during pick-up and drop-off hours on campus.

The students ultimately raised $750, which they presented directly to Marine Staff Sgt. John Roybal during a Dec. 19 ceremony at the school’s chapel. Roybal serves as the Toys for Tots coordinator for Portland and remarked on what a huge, positive impact the donation would have on area families.

Principal Judi Smith served as the students’ faculty advisor and helped organize the logistics of selling the $1 cups of cocoa. She described the students’ efforts as “a heartfelt project” — one that is hardly out of character for the students at her school.

“They will continue to show their compassion during this Christmas season and into the new year,” Smith said.

Contract Publishing

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