Kayettes kick into high gear for city’s Angel Tree project
When Lansing High School Kayettes members learned the city's Angel Tree had received food and gift requests from a record number of underprivileged families, they went into action.
"We heard there were 70 children in our community that needed help, and it really touched us, so that's why we started to try to get as much help as possible," said LHS junior Brittany Shelton, a Cabinet member of the group.
For six years, the Kayettes have sponsored a Mitten Tree to collect warm clothing, nonperishable food, toys and toiletries for families in need.
So on Nov. 29, the group began its annual drive for the needy as usual. But an article in the Nov. 30 issue of The Current - combined with the weather-related cancellation of classes at Lansing schools on Nov. 30 and Dec. 1 - led the Kayettes to step up their efforts, Shelton said.
She said the article alerted the group that this year's Angel Tree had received the most gift requests in its 20-year history.
With two fewer days to collect donations, Shelton said, the Kayettes grew concerned.
"We were trying to get all the schools involved because we heard the city really needed help this year," said Shelton, who coordinated the project with senior Lauren Summers and junior Kaitlyn White.
The Kayettes distributed notes and letters publicizing the increased need at Lansing Elementary School, Lansing Intermediate School and Lansing Middle School.
At LHS, the Kayettes visited classrooms, where they asked students and teachers to give generously.
An added incentive to donate, Shelton said, was the promise of a pizza party for the LHS seminar group that collected the most items.
"All of a sudden, we had a ton of stuff coming in," Shelton said, adding that all four Lansing schools answered the call.
Kayettes sponsor and LHS librarian Debra Hutton said she had never seen such an outpouring of support at LHS. The donations flooded the library, nearly blocking off a path to her desk.
"I've never seen so much stuff. It's never been like this," she said. "Every time I asked for something, I got a rush on it - soup, baby formula, noodles - whatever I asked for."
Hutton said LHS students and teachers alike deserved credit for the project.
"These are sweet kids. They really are - and teachers too. We had so many teachers really pushing for this," she said.
Hutton said many LHS students went on shopping parties to buy for the families, and many students raided their own closets, which contained new clothing with the tags still attached, as well as used clothing still in good condition.
"The kids really came out of the woodwork for this," she said.
Hutton said all food items, toys, new clothing and coats were picked up by city personnel after the drive ended on Thursday, Dec. 14, and were used to fill requests on the Angel Tree.
The Kayettes also delivered between eight and 10 large bags of used clothing to the Leavenworth Assistance Center.