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Students Offer Gifts In A Shoebox
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Fair Oaks student council members, clockwise from left, Jack Mendes, Kylie Ryland, Caroline Hamilton, Ashlyn Marler, and Kennedy Marler make up shoeboxes filled with special items for children in the area as part of a school-wide charity project. - photo by Dawn M. Henley/The Leader


A school-wide service project that was inspired by a children’s story recently made the holidays a little brighter for local children who are served through Oakdale’s Center for Human Services.

Excerpts of the story called “Miracle In A Shoebox,” were read to the children in all grade levels at Fair Oaks Elementary School when they visited the library. School Vice Principal Janet Hamby then asked the 36 classes at the school to make a shoebox filled with small items suitable for a boy and one for a girl, some classes made extra boxes.

“As a school project, our character trait this month is generosity,” Hamby said. “And the third through sixth grade classes had a character assembly on empathy and this helps them to show empathy to others.”

Over the course of about two weeks, the students brought in new items that they felt a child would like to have or would need that would fit into a shoebox. Some of the items included gift cards, soap, hair products, toys, books, socks, hats, scarves, and so on.

“It helps kids that don’t have very many things and it’ll give them just a little bit of joy for Christmas,” said fifth grader Kylie Ryland.

“For kids who’ve lost a lot, (the boxes) can give hope that people are still caring for them,” added sixth grader Jack Mendes.

The shoeboxes were delivered to Oakdale’s Center for Human Services just before school got out for winter break.

“It feels good because you have so much you can give to other people and you don’t realize it,” said sixth grader Caroline Hamilton.

“It just makes me feel good because I know I’m helping people,” Ryland said.

In a different twist on a service project, Lisa Graham’s fourth grade class chose to forego shoeboxes and instead do a glove drive called “Operation Helping Hands” to benefit Family Support Network. The students kicked off their drive just after Thanksgiving and brought in over 60 pairs of new gloves. To conclude their project, they took a walking field trip to Family Support Network on Dec. 20 to deliver them.