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Williamsport fifth-graders get lesson in giving

December 17, 2003|by PEPPER BALLARD

Editor's note: This is one in a series of stories running on the 12 days before Christmas to recognize people who make the holidays better for others.




pepperb@herald-mail.com

Ask children what they want for Christmas and they'll list the works, but ask children what they can do for Christmas and they'll show you how it works.

That's what Williamsport Elementary School teacher Stephanie Bard discovered when she asked the school's 75 fifth-graders to donate food, gifts and money to a family in need.

The children and their parents donated more than $800 worth of Christmas cheer to a family with two boys, ages 11 and 12, and a girl, age 6, who the Salvation Army identified for the school.

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Bard, who organized similar toy campaigns while in college, said she thought adopting a family was the best way for her students to observe the holiday season at school.

Each of the school's three fifth-grade classes, with the help of their other teachers, Diahann Bryan and Todd Vogtman, adopted a child and made it their mission to get the toys the children requested.

"It was just amazing what they brought in," she said.

Williamsport fifth-graders got the children a Game Boy, remote control cars, walkie-talkies, a Leap Pad, a telescope, Old Navy clothes and several dolls, among other items, she said.

The wrapped toys were given to the Salvation Army on Dec. 9.

Bard said the students don't know the family and it's unlikely they will find out what the children thought of their generosity.

"We talked about how sometimes when we do a good deed it's not for thanks," she said.

Bard started volunteering through her college sorority at Western Maryland College, now McDaniel College, and said she enjoyed helping out the community.

"If kids start early enough, they'll be much more generous as adults," she said.

Bard said she was a little concerned that some of her students might not be able to contribute to the family because of their own financial situations.

She told students that if they could only donate a few dollars, she would make sure the money was put to good use.

"We talked about realizing that even if they don't get everything they want for Christmas that there are people out there who don't get anything," she said.

Bard said the children also donated "everything but the turkey" for the family's Christmas dinner.

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