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Students and staff spread kindness during the holiday season
From organizing coat and toy drives to collecting Pantry Pack items for food-insecure students, school communities in the Lake Washington School District brought a little holiday cheer to those in need during this season of giving.
 
Toys, clothes and supplies
A few more people will have a scarf to help stay warm this winter, thanks to some generous students and staff. Fourth-graders in Suzanne Zeitz’s class at Louisa May Alcott Elementary School are knitting five scarves using a special circular loom. The finished scarves will be donated to Hopelink where they can be distributed to people who need them. “Our classroom theme is kindness, and this project fits right in,” said Zeitz. Staff at Benjamin Rush Elementary School also spent an afternoon making fleece scarves for homeless youth. The scarves will be donated through Holiday Stockings for Homeless Children. 

Rachel Carson Elementary School
collected mittens along with toy donations, which will benefit Carson families. Students at Emerson High School collected toy donations for Toys for Tots, the International Community School ASB organized a toy drive, and the Franklin Elementary PE teacher, Andy Arena, organized a toy drive for Children’s Hospital.
 
Juanita High School junior Kendall Stern collected 129 items for the homeless during a winter coat drive in Kirkland. These items will be distributed through The MORELove Project. In November and December, students at Lake Washington High School also donated coats to The MORELove Project.
 
Staff at the Lake Washington School District Resource Center donated 143 items for the Hopelink Giving Tree. The McAuliffe Elementary PTSA also organized a giving tree and coat drive for McAuliffe families in need, which brought in more than 150 items. In addition, the PTSA collected 14 coats and 12 pairs of shoes for students at Rose Hill Elementary School.
 
At Redmond Middle School, Leadership students held a toy drive and a coat drive to benefit families in need as part of the Hope Festival. At Rose Hill Middle School, students in ASB, the Multicultural Club and Leadership organized a drive to collect “I Care” bundles. The items included a toothbrush, toothpaste, hand warmer, socks, and one food item for residents at The Landing, an emergency shelter in Redmond for young adults, ages 18-24.
 
On Dec. 14, Benjamin Rush Elementary’s school counselor organized a “shop” where local families could receive new clothes, toys and gift cards. The items, donated by community members, go to families who would not normally be able to afford them.
 
At Samantha Smith Elementary School, students collected hygiene supplies for the Hope Festival. Students in Kathy Hiles’ class received doughnuts for collecting the most items. Thoreau Elementary School collected mittens, hats and scarves for children and youth. The drive was organized by second-graders and the 2/3 Quest classes. Items were distributed through Hopelink and Kirkland shelters.
 
 
Thanking our troops
Students at Eastlake High School collected items for care packages, which were sent to troops abroad in November. Two homeroom classes, taught by Don Bartel and Michelle Okroy, participated in the drive. 
 
Students at Lake Washington High School assembled care packages and wrote letters to troops overseas for Veterans Day in November. Operation Shoebox distributes the supplies and A Million Thanks distributes the letters.
 
After Halloween, students at several elementary schools, including at Samantha Smith Elementary School, had the opportunity to donate their candy to troops serving abroad.
 
 
Fundraisers
During the last week of November, Leadership students at Kamiakin Middle School collected cash donations for the Heavenly Hats Foundation, which provides hats to cancer patients around the country. Students and staff who donated at least $1 were allowed to wear a favorite hat to school at the end of the week.
 
The McAuliffe Elementary School ASB organized a gingerbread house contest for students and staff. The eight teams chose a favorite charity. During the last week of school in December, students determined the beneficiary of the fundraiser by donating to their favorite gingerbread house or cause. The gingerbread houses raised $736.34 for the ALS Association.
 
 
Food drives
The Margaret Mead Elementary School community collected 1,301 food items, which were distributed to Mead families. These families also received Safeway Thanksgiving dinners in November and Giving Tree items before winter break.
 
Hopelink and Pantry Packs
Some schools held special food drives and friendly competitions during the Apple Cup. Laura Ingalls Wilder Elementary School collected 900 pouches of applesauce. Samantha Smith Elementary School collected 793 pounds of food.
 
Environmental & Adventure School donated food and supplies during its 16th annual “Holiday Spirit of Giving Drive for Hopelink.” Evergreen Middle School collected 1,666 pounds of food for Hopelink and Finn Hill Middle School gathered 2,300 items for Hopelink Pantry Packs in November.
 
For two weeks in October and November, Kirkland Middle School collected food for the We Scare Hunger Food Drive for Hopelink Pantry Packs.
 
Lakeview Elementary School collected food for Hopelink Pantry Packs during its “Snack and Food Drive” in November. On the morning of Dec. 6, Redmond Middle School staff assembled Pantry Packs for RMS students to take with them over the break. Staff donated enough food to create 60 Pantry Packs and they plan to donate and assemble an additional 30 Pantry Packs before students leave on winter break this week.
 
During the first week in December, Rockwell Elementary School collected 899 pounds of food and almost 200 toys for Hopelink. Rosa Parks Elementary collected 343 pounds of food for Hopelink Pantry Packs. Henry David Thoreau Elementary PTA collected peanut butter and other items at a school dance in November. They donated 344 pounds of food to Hopelink Pantry Packs.
 
Redmond High School families donated 570 gift cards, in denominations ranging from $10 to $50, for a total of almost $20,000. The gift cards will benefit students who receive Pantry Packs, Operation School Bell, and other students in need. The RHS National Honor Society food drive brought in about 2,000 cans of food for RHS students and their families.
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