Kayettes draw on students’ generosity to hold holiday drives
This year, the mitten tree at Lansing High School looks a little barer than it has in years past. But it's not because the students are being less generous.
In previous years, students donated only mittens. This year, the Kayettes expanded their fourth annual winter Christmas drive to include toys, canned food and clothing.
"The tree looks cool with mittens on it, but students really had fun bringing in the toys and food," said Kayettes sponsor Debra Hutton.
For the past four years, the Kayettes have sent the items donated by students to the Leavenworth Assistance Center. This year, the center asked the Kayettes to adopt a family for the holidays, but the Kayettes took it one step further. They decided to include the items that the families in need had requested from the Assistance center and collect all of these items so the center could provide them for not just one but many families.
Students have responded well to the Kayettes expanding the types of items they are collecting, Hutton said.
"People like to personalize the drive," she said. "One student brought in a SpongeBob SquarePants hat, which I'm sure some little kid will love."
Another student brought in two men's coats and a sack of toy cars.
Although students are bringing in many toys and more blankets this year, Hutton said the items students are bringing in are evenly divided among canned goods, toiletries and toys.
Kayettes have been collecting items from students since the first week of December. In addition to the high school drive, the Kayettes organized canned food drives at Lansing Elementary School and Lansing Intermediate School. Lansing Middle School is holding a food drive of its own.
The high school will give all of the canned goods, toys and clothing items that it collects to the Assistance Center. It will donate the items from the elementary and intermediate schools to the Lansing Mayor's Christmas Tree Fund. Hutton said she is always impressed with the response from students at these schools.
Throughout the Christmas season, Kayettes have found additional ways to work with students in other schools in the district. Earlier this month, they sent letters from Santa's elves to second-graders at the elementary school. This Saturday, they will help elementary students shop at Lansing PTA's Santa's Secret Shop.
Kayettes find the cooperation with other schools rewarding.
"Anything that involves little kids and shopping, the girls are in hog heaven," Hutton said.
Kayettes are responsible for helping to create a more festive atmosphere at high school. They worked with other clubs within the school to decorate the school's hallways and office. They also made door hangers for each teacher as a Christmas gift.
Action for the Kayettes won't end once the holidays pass. When they come back from winter break, they expect to sponsor a drive for items to send to soldiers with local connections who are stationed overseas, most of them in Iraq.
Soldiers in Iraq are seeing for themselves the poor conditions children there have to live in, Hutton said. They have asked for basic goods like school supplies, toiletries and clothes to give to the civilian hospitals. Kayettes plan to send out these supplies through Operation Iraqi Children, a program started by actor Gary Sinise and author Laura Hillenbrand that sponsors the costs of shipping supplies overseas.