Charitable Christmas: Sixth-graders raise $9,000 to sponsor 130 Angel Tree children
BY SARA PLUMMER World Staff Writer
Wednesday, December 12, 2012
12/12/12 at 8:10 AM
Shopping in the children's shoe department at J.C. Penney in Woodland Hills Mall on Tuesday, sixth-grader Hannah Darden squealed when she found the perfect pair of shoes.
"They're pink and sparkly," said Hannah, who wasn't shopping for herself but for a 7-year-old girl she selected from The Salvation Army's Angel Tree.
Hannah was one of 70 Monte Cassino School sixth-graders who spent Tuesday shopping for children from the Angel Tree.
For more than 10 years, the school's sixth-grade class service project has been to raise money and shop for children in need at Christmas. This year, the class raised more than $9,000 to sponsor more than 130 angels from the tree.
The students aren't allowed to ask for donations; they have to work for the money, said Lenna Coffman, a sixth-grade religion teacher.
"We introduce (the project) in October," she said. "They get together in their groups to come up with plans on how to raise money. If someone tries to donate money, they have to say, 'What can I do for you?' "
Baking cookies to sell, raking leaves, holding garage sales, delivering firewood and baby-sitting were a few of the ways the students earned money, which was then divided evenly among the students with the goal of each helping two children from the tree.
The students had to buy something the child wanted, something the child needed and something educational, such as a book, puzzle or game.
"We spend a lot of time talking about looking for deals. Some of the kids brought coupons," Coffman said. "It's not about name brands but meeting their needs."
We want to "help as many as we can and use our money wisely."
The students did shop for deals, forgoing more expensive stores for ones holding sales or offering discounts.
Jordan Bachman was able to get one of her angels, a 3-year-old boy, a pair of jeans, a shirt and jacket for $26 at The Children's Place. She said shopping for a boy was easier than she thought it would be.
"They're just looking for something to have, not looking for big-name brands," Jordan said. "I really like it. They don't have as much as us. We take so much for granted. It feels good to be helping them like this."
Portia McDonald said she also had a lot of fun shopping for her girl from the Angel Tree.
"I can relate to it," she said. "I remember when I was 7. I see something and ask, 'Would I like this? Would I want this for Christmas?'
"I don't see it as something I have to do," Portia said. "It's something I want to do. It gets you in the Christmas spirit."
Coffman said her favorite part of the project is hearing from the students the day after shopping about their entire experience, from working for the money to getting to buy for their angels.
"It really helps them step out of themselves; they get to feel that feeling," she said. "It's good for them."
The service project has made Portia think twice before grumbling at home.
"We're all so fortunate to have what we have," she said. "None of us know what it's like to be hungry or to not have a coat. We complain about having to eat vegetables, when they may not have enough food."
The experience is one that sticks with some of the students year after year, Coffman said.
"They want to reunite with their group (the next year). They go home to their family and say they want to make it a tradition," she said. "It's the gift that keeps on giving."
Salvation Army holiday programs
All children participating in The Salvation Army's Angel Tree program have been adopted. The agency is awaiting gifts for more than 2,500 children.
On Dec. 15, Tulsa Gold and Silver will match up to $10,000 all donations made that day to The Salvation Army's Red Kettle campaign. The company will match all donations made Dec. 22 up to $15,000.
Original Print Headline: Project teaches charity
Sara Plummer 918-581-8465
Monte Cassino students Portia McDonald (right) and Hannah Darden talk as they shop for gifts for The Salvation Army's Angel Tree kids at Woodland Hills Mall on Tuesday. As part of the sixth-grade service project, students raised more than $9,000, giving each student $130 to shop for two angels. JOHN CLANTON/Tulsa World
Brice Luessenhop (from left), Chris Kendrick and Price Pettit, sixth-grade students from Monte Cassino, pick out kids to shop for from The Salvation Army's Angel Tree at Woodlands Hills Mall on Tuesday. JOHN CLANTON/Tulsa World
Monte Cassino sixth-graders Sonora Reagh (from left), Hannah Darden, Tabea Bruentrup and Portia McDonald talk after shopping for Salvation Army Angel Tree kids Tuesday at Woodland Hills Mall. JOHN CLANTON/Tulsa World