"I am very proud of the students for putting others first and thinking of the animals at the shelter," Meridian Elementary Principal Karen Phillips said.
Most elementary students look forward to the final days of school before Christmas break, besides having a party, students usually have a gift exchange.
However, this year at Meridian Elementary, the fifth-grade students decided to give a gift to those who are really in need.
"A gift exchange doesn't help anyone," student Cassie Ronaldson said. "The animals needed it."
"It is better to give back to the animals than receive presents," student Ryan Brackman added.
The student council sponsored a drive for the Clay County Humane Society, but it was the fifth-grade students who believed it was better to not have a class gift exchange and instead use that money to buy a gift for the shelter.
"For all of the kids to help the animals means a lot," Shelter Manager Brittney Tucker said. "For them at their age to not have a gift exchange so they could do this for the animals is really wonderful."
Tucker, who was noticeably moved by the generosity of the students and teachers, was speechless upon glimpsing the items collected by the students.
"I really want to say thank you to all the students and teachers at Meridian," she said. "This is wonderful."
During a time when many families are having a hard time making ends meet, the students didn't want to forget about the animals without homes.
"This was a good idea for the animals because most charities are only able to help people," student Mason Moon said. "It is good to do something for the community."
When asked about the difference between giving to the animals instead of another person, all the students agreed it was good to give to the shelter.
"We felt like doing something different by giving to the animals instead of people," student Cody Swearingen said. "It was nice to help the shelter."
"Animals bring so much joy to people," student Austin Kaelber added. "By helping the animals we brought joy to people."
Both fifth-grade teachers were surprised every student believed it was a wonderful idea because many children at that age would typically be upset by the thought of taking away part of the holiday fun.
"There wasn't one person against it," teacher Amy Hardey said. "They brainstormed ideas and went with it."
Every day teachers prepare lesson plans and activities for their classrooms. But the Humane Society drive gave the teachers an opportunity they couldn't pass up.
"They learned the value of giving back," Hardey said. "In ten years when they look back, its this they will remember not math."
With all of the hustle and bustle as the days draw closer to Christmas, the students at Meridian are asking for people to not forget.
"People get more attention than animals do, especially ones with no home," student Dylan Monett said. "People should do stuff for others, especially the animals because not everyone gets something for Christmas."