Koontz students learn about giving

Published 12:00 am Thursday, December 10, 2009

By Kathy Chaffin

See a gallery of photos here!

Students at Koontz Elementary School raised enough money to buy 75 coats for the Salvation Army’s Angel Tree project.
Ten students accompanied Principal Rick Dunlap, first-grade teacher Rebecca Gregory and teacher assistant/bus driver Bonita Robinson Wednesday morning to present the coats to the Salvation Army.
Capts. Melissa and Jason Smith of the Salvation Army met the group at the former Power Curbers building on Bringle Ferry Road, which the agency uses to store donations during the holiday season.
The Salvation Army will distribute the coats to parents of children represented on its annual Angel Tree project for struggling families.
Gregory, who came up with the idea, said students raised more than $1,300 in a holiday coin drive. About $800 was spent on coats, she said, and the rest will be kept in a fund to help children in need.
A competition between grades K-1, 2-3 and 4-5 got students excited about the coin drive, Gregory said, with the class that raised the most money in each category earning a pizza party. “We had a little graph in the front lobby,” she said, “and most classes that would come by were very anxious to see how they were doing.
“Also, I believe several teachers tried to reiterate the importance of giving back and reaching out to the community.”
The Student Government Association (SGA) officers and homeroom representatives selected to help deliver the coats were excited about the project.
“When they were getting the coats out of the van,” Gregory said, “they said, ‘This is fun. I can’t believe how many coats there are. Look at this one …’ ”
SGA President Kalem Hewitt, a fifth-grader at Koontz, said the coats will keep children warm “who may not have the money to buy a jacket.”
Hewitt’s vice president is his sister, Iyanna Hewitt, who is in the fourth grade. “It made me feel good to help people,” she said.
Doing for others also made her feel more grateful for what she has, Iyanna said.
She and Kalem decided to run for SGA offices together because they can discuss project ideas together at home. “We thought it would be a good idea to see how it would feel to be the vice president and president,” she said.
Estefany Jimenez, a fifth-grader, said she enjoyed the project because she likes to do things for people who don’t have as much. “A lot of people are going to get cold because they can’t afford a coat,” she said.
Callie Kirchin, SGA treasurer and fourth-grader, said it made her happy to be able to help deliver coats to the Salvation Army รณ especially at Christmas.
“Christmas is about Jesus and giving to the kids that don’t have a lot of presents,” she said.
Fourth-grader Zion Allen said delivering the coats made him feel great. “We can help boys and girls and parents that don’t have money and give them the coats,” he said.
SGA secretary Caylee Smith, a third-grader at Koontz, said it made her feel good to give to children who don’t have as much. “If I want stuff,” she said, “I want other children to have stuff, too, so they don’t feel bad.”
Caylee said Christmas is about giving and Jesus and that helping to make the holidays special for needy children makes her happy.
“God’s never been wrong,” she said, “and it makes me feel good because my dad’s a preacher at Southside Baptist Church.”
Third-grader Joel Davies said he enjoyed the planning and meetings that went along with the project. Christmas is all about giving, he said.
After the Koontz group posed for a photograph, Principal Dunlap shook the hand of each student.
Capt. Jason Smith thanked the Koontz group for the donation of coats to keep children warm in the cold weather. “A lot of boys and girls are going to benefit from what you have done,” he said.
Contact Kathy Chaffin at 704-797-4249.