While many kids are making long wish lists for Santa to make good on this Christmas, Belgrade students are also giving back to those in need this season.
At Heck/Quaw Elementary School, shopping carts from Lee and Dad’s are overflowing with non-perishable food items students have gathered since Dec. 2.
Heck/Quaw principal Lori Degenhart said her students will continue gather food until Thursday before the cache will be taken to the Gallatin Valley Food Bank.
“They feel so proud when they march to the office to drop cans off,” Degenhart said. “We’re trying to establish a baseline understanding of giving at the school.”
Ridge View and Saddle Peak elementary school students also gathered food for the food bank. The Saddle Peak student body rallied to raise 1,300 pounds of food for the Gallatin Valley Food Bank.
“A lot of our kids need help,” Saddle Peak Principal Dave Smith said. “A lot don’t. The kids are really pitching in to help each other.”
The parent/teacher organizations at the elementary schools were responsible for setting up the giving trees. A tree for each school was adorned with needy students’ Christmas wish lists. Each list was anonymous. Christmas trees were placed at various Belgrade businesses like True Value, Lee and Dad’s and Albertsons.
Community members from around the valley have already snatched the lists off the trees and brought back gifts for students. Most lists included basic need items like boots, coats and mittens that students need to survive the winter.
“The economy is still a challenge for people,” Smith said. “These kids feel so good when they help someone else.”
At the Belgrade Middle School, students donated 24 turkeys and hams to the food bank in time for Thanksgiving. Overall, the students in grades five through eight gave 2,084 items to the food bank. The fifth grade class that donated the most food was awarded a pizza party.
Middle school Math Teacher Jim Tweet coordinated a dodge ball tournament with his Jobs for Montana Graduates class. The proceeds from the tournament were donated to the Heart of the Valley Animal Shelter. Tweet said tournament netted $200.
The Parent/Teacher for Kids group at the middle school donated $1,500 worth of gift cards to be given to families who need help during the holidays. Belgrade Middle School Assistant Principal Jan Riebhoff said the cards are “intended to help families with whatever they need most for Christmas.”
The Belgrade Bus Barn is hosting the middle school Christmas giving tree this year.
Belgrade High School students are busy with a plethora of giving projects of their own this season. The National Honor Society and the counseling department are hosting a coat drive this year. Coats will be donated around the district to any kid who needs one.
The Family, Career and Community Leaders of American club at the high school will wrap the gifts from the high school giving tree. The tree was located outside the high school’s main office.
High school principal Russ McDaniel said he was impressed by the staff and students who rushed to pick a name off the tree or drop a donation in a box.
The FCCLA is also working to gather blankets for the warming center in Bozeman.
The Health Occupation Students of America club and the Key Club gathered stuffed animals and clothing to bring smiles to children this season.
The entire Belgrade School District participated in a toy drive for kids. The Kiwanis Club will collect the boxes of toys and distribute them locally.
“I can’t believe how full the boxes are already,” Superintendent of Belgrade Schools Candy Lubansky said. “Our kids have enormous generosity of heart.”
Check your local school for drop boxes, shopping carts and other ways to donate this season.