"We had kind of thrown around the idea of doing something to honor the late Cpl. Gregory Stultz," Northview Algebra teacher and wrestling mom Shannon Sampson said about the Brazil native who died in combat February 19, 2010, while serving in Afghanistan. "With Greg being a marine, we knew the marine toy drive was an ideal way to do that."
From now until Saturday, Dec. 10, Northview wrestling members along with students from the school's Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) and Bible Club are collecting toys to donate for the 2011 United States Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots toy drive. The drive began as two independent toy drive projects, one through the clubs and the other through the wrestling team.
Earlier this semester, former Bible Club member and 2007 Northview graduate Jenni Bridgewater contacted guidance counselor and Bible Club co-sponsor Susan Treash requesting the school's help with the annual toy drive.
"Our clubs had been wanting to do something to help the community for awhile, and when Jenni called us with the idea we thought it was perfect," Treash said. "Then, we found out the wrestling team was doing the same thing, and we decided to work together." According to Treash, the high school classes are having a competition to see which grade raises the most money and collects the most toys for the toy drive. During first-period, Treash and co-Bible Club sponsor Bev Higham visit each classroom collecting money and toys for the drive. Each dollar earns the respective class one point, and each toy will earn a class 10 points. Whichever class collects the most will be rewarded with a donut party, and each person who donates gets their name written on a paper train that is to be displayed in the school cafeteria.
"It's almost like the pay-it-forward idea," Higham said. "You do receive a gift when you give to someone else -- the gift of knowing you helped someone who might have nothing without your help."
Sampson said she thinks the toy drive is also teaching students to be grateful and appreciate what they do have.
"I tell the kids, you remember getting up Christmas morning and having gifts to unwrap," Sampson explained. "There are children out there who will get up and not have anything waiting for them." She added the student's and parent's most important job is helping spread the word about the toy drive to the community.
"During the wrestling match Saturday, there will be donation boxes at the front doors when people first come in where people from our community and surrounding community can donate toys," Sampson said. There will be students from South Vermillion, Plainfield, Martinsville, Terre Haute North and South Vigo high schools and Northview competing.
The toys collected throughout the remainder of the week will be given to the Marine Corps Reserve, and then they will distribute them to Clay County children.
"We're hoping that students as well as the community members are out their donating to help the children who will otherwise go without this Christmas," Treash said.