One never knows when they might be inspired by another’s actions.
That is definitely the experience of Oakdale Junior High School seventh grade teacher Elizabeth Cram. The fifth year English Language Arts teacher innocently found inspiration while listening to a radio show on her drive into work in mid-November. The topic of giving to others, prompted Cram to think of her own life.
“It just made me think, I want to do something to give back,” Cram stated. “I spoil myself and my kids and so I came in and talked to my students.”
The idea she shared was the Salvation Army sponsored Angel Tree and her wish for the students to reach out and make a difference in a Stanislaus County child’s life this holiday season. Of the 143 students she teaches throughout five classes, more than two-thirds expressed an interest in participation.
“So 100 kids were able to get wishes granted from my students,” Cram said of her seventh graders. She also noted some staff as well as family participation of her own.
Many of the students noted making it a family affair as well. Not just shopping with their parents but with younger siblings and in some cases grandparents.
The lessons gained, however, from the granted wishes far exceed the money spent to bless the lives of the 100 children in need. One of Cram’s students shared openly that he and his family were once recipients of the Angel Tree from the age of three until he was five, as his own parents hit a rough patch.
“My family wasn’t doing the best,” he said of that period and what he gained from the experience now, “so I just wanted to give back.”
A sampling of items purchased to help grant wishes included: tea sets, football gear, nerf guns, toddler toys, baby dolls and learning toys among the wide variety benefitting the 100 recipients.
“It just made me super proud,” Cram said of the student participation, noting that students have expressed interest in returning to her class as eighth graders to participate again.
“It wasn’t about me,” she continued, choking back emotion. “I felt so proud of them for wanting to do it. I have 143 students and the fact that 100 of them gave back and were so excited. That’s just amazing.”
The 100 wrapped gifts were retrieved from the campus earlier this week by Salvation Army officials and will now benefit children age birth to 12 throughout the county.