School toy drives give the Grinch the boot

Signs of a struggling economy weren’t on the Grinch’s list this holiday season, evident by the generosity displayed among Dieringer School District’s three schools.

Rachel and Malia Mason and Jaclyn Akers load an appliance-sized box full of donated toys into Mason’s van Dec. 12 at Deiringer Heights Elementary School in Lake Tapps.

Signs of a struggling economy weren’t on the Grinch’s list this holiday season, evident by the generosity displayed among Dieringer School District’s three schools.

Lake Tapps Elementary

The spirit of giving began in November when each of the 18 first- through third-grade classrooms at Lake Tapps Elementary hosted a food drive that yielded 1,087 items. The final amount doubled the school’s goal.

The openhandedness continued Dec. 1 through Dec. 12 when the school hosted its ninth annual Holiday Magic Toy Drive, organized by former Dieringer parent and Girl Scout leader Rachel Mason. The toy drive, which took place simultaneously at Dieringer Heights Elementary, benefitted foster children within the Washington State Department of Children and Family Services.

“It’s a perfect community service project for that age,” said Mason, who also used to be a foster mother. “What’s really neat is that I get phone calls from people this time of year asking if we’re doing it again – they look forward to it.”

School secretary Laurie Demick was impressed that students donated toys although no competition between classrooms took place.

“It’s simply out of the generosity of the kids and their parents,” she said. “They filled an appliance box that came up to my nose and there were even so many more. It’s a pouring of gifts for kids that teaches compassion.”

Dieringer Heights Elementary

Dieringer Heights’ student council stepped up to the community service plate as well when it hosted continuous food drives divided into November and December deliveries.

“We work together with Lake Tapps Elementary to cover the different food banks,” Principal Kevin Anderson said. “We donated to Bonney Lake Food Bank in November and to Sumner Food Bank in December. They’ll donate their December donations to the Auburn Food Bank. We kind of spread it around the local communities as much as we can.”

Donations exceeded the goal of 2,500 items by 300 in November, which filled Anderson’s truck. But the giving didn’t stop with the deliveries, he said.

“We had students from North Tapps Middle School at the food bank who stayed there to help out as part of their Pay it Forward community service project,” Anderson said, noting another 1,000 items were scheduled to be donated Dec. 17.

The school offered a small competition of an extra recess and ice cream party for the class that brought in the most items, Anderson said, “but that’s not the focus.”

At its toy drive, Anderson realized many of his families – which comprise 28 classrooms in grades kindergarten, pre-first and fourth and fifth grades – have students at both Dieringer elementaries and still remain generous in giving to both drives.

“It’s up to the families,” he said. “We encourage the parents to shop with their children – to have conversations with their children about the importance of helping the community and they respond. It’s unbelieveable – even with the economy and the challenges this year. I’m pleased.”

North Tapps Middle School

The Grinch stayed away from North Tapps Middle School when it hosted two events this holiday season: a food drive that began Dec. 5 and ended Friday when the donations were delivered to the Sumner Food Bank.

“We know the food bank needs our help at this time,” Principal Pat Keaton said. He added that donations may have been somewhat impeded by last week’s inclement weather. Still, he remained optimistic.

“We’re hoping our NTMS community of students, parents and staff will once again come through,” he said.

Operation Santa collected small items to send to overseas military personnel via the Marine Moms. As in years past, the school collected boxes of such items as mixed nuts, eye drops, hand warmers, lip balm, board games, handmade cards and letters.

The school’s Associated Student Body helped host the event, which concluded Nov. 21 in time for the Marine Moms to package and ship the items in time for the holidays.

Reach Judy Halone at jhalone@courierherald.com or 360-802-8210.

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