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A lesson in giving

The tooth fairy gave $1 to sixth-grader Abby Long, who in turn gave it to her school to buy Christmas gifts for children living in adverse circumstances.

This year, in lieu of a food drive, Griffin Creek Elementary decided to raise money to buy Christmas presents for children served by the Maslow Project, a local resource for homeless families and youths. The school asked every student to make a $1 donation to the cause. Some students brought in a handful of change. Others gave more, and collectively, the school raised about $397.

“This is more fun than the canned food drive because you get to know that it’s going to someone like you,” said fourth-grader Rowan Lance.

Every class at Griffin Creek selected an ornament from the school’s giving tree with the age of an anonymous boy or girl and what that child wanted for Christmas.

On Wednesday, eight fourth- through sixth-grade students — all members of the school’s student council — went to Walmart to pick out gifts for 23 children. They had $20 to spent on each child.

Abby and Rowan, together with first-grade teacher Margaret Moore, selected an Anna doll and Elsa princess crown for a kindergarten-age girl who’d asked for Disney “Frozen” toys. They also picked out an interactive elephant storybook and Donald Duck stuffed animal for a 10-month-old boy.

Some kids had very practical wishes.

“This boy,” said Moore, holding up the ornament of a 10-year-old boy, “he could have asked for anything he wanted, and he asked for a hat and gloves. I think he needs a toy, too.”

So the girls and Moore picked out some large trucks to go with the winter wear — all within their $20 budget.

After purchasing the gifts, the students returned to school to wrap them, and students in each class made a card for the child their class “adopted.”

“It’s fun because I get to help someone rather than just buying myself presents,” Abby said.

The Maslow Project obtains Christmas wish lists from high-needs children in the area only after a sponsor steps forward so they aren't disappointed if their wish isn't met, said Gina Patterson, a community outreach coordinator and family advocate.

Last year, local sponsors made Christmas happen for about 200 kids, she added.

To be a sponsor, contact Maslow Project at 541-608-6868 or email Colleen Aho at colleen@maslowproject.com.

Reach education reporter Teresa Thomas at 541-776-4497 or tthomas@mailtribune.com. Follow her at www.twitter.com/teresathomas_mt.

Griffin Creek Elementary School teachers Jenna Dode, left, and Margaret Moore help Abby Long, 12, center, and Rowan Lance, 10, pick out some toys for a difficult-to-shop-for boy during a Walmart shopping trip for the Maslow Project. Mail Tribune / Bob Pennell