Oh what fun it is to shop for others at Christmastime.
For Brownstown Central Middle School Tribal Council members, the annual tradition involves shopping for less-fortunate children in the Brownstown school district.
From young kids to teenagers, the students consider the recipient’s age and gender in determining which items to place in their cart.
Along the way, they track the amount they are spending to stay within budget.
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At the end of Monday morning’s trip to Walmart Supercenter in Salem, the 29 students had spent around $4,500 and helped nearly 90 kids from 27 families have a better Christmas.
Those items along with food collected by Brownstown Elementary School students and staff will be presented to the Brownstown Christmas Cheer committee to distribute to families. The elementary’s food drive ends today.
“It was fun because we get to help people that aren’t fortunate enough to have a great Christmas and help them have a great Christmas,” sixth-grader Anthony Elliott said. “It makes me feel like a good person, and it helps me just calm down and helps me focus and be like, ‘I did good today.’ I hope to do more good things in the future.”
He shopped with classmate Kolton Helton. While it was their first time going on the shopping trip, they had helped with Christmas Cheer when they were in elementary through the food drive.
“It was fun because you got to do something right for other kids who can’t get stuff like this from their parents,” Helton said. “Those people can have a good Christmas like we have a good Christmas. I hope they can have a better time and have more fun. When we do something good, good things will happen back to us.”
Sixth-graders Lilly Brazzell, Keilyn Nicholson and Taylor Smith shopped together Monday morning.
“I like that we got to pick out for people and try to help them have a better Christmas,” Brazzell said. “I think about whenever I was about their age and think about stuff that seems their age would like.”
Nicholson said it was nice helping families that don’t have a lot.
“I hope that they feel happy because they get stuff that they probably don’t have a lot of,” she said.
As Smith looked at the carts full of toys, it made her feel good knowing she was a part of making a difference for others.
“It was fun to get to pick out things for kids that don’t have much,” she said. “I had a smile on my face the whole time picking this out. I feel like it brings joy to be able to do this, and giving to the community is really a good thing.”
Tribal Council Advisers Alicia McCrary and Kelly Cunningham accompanied the students on the shopping trip.
McCrary said the students conducted several fundraisers this school year. Money was collected through concessions sales at an after-school dance, admission and concessions from an after-school open gym, a penny wars competition and water and healthy snack sales at school.
She said the latter brought in the most money.
“Any opportunity they get to eat and drink in class, they’ll take,” she said, smiling.
Local businesses and organizations also contributed to the students’ efforts. That included Bob Poynter GM, S and J Excavation and Concrete, Community Foundation of Jackson County and State Bank of Medora.
In the end, they wound up with $1,000 more than 2018, McCrary said. The addition of an after-school activity boosted the total.
“We take a picture and we always send it to the donors because I want them to know 100% of the money that they give us goes straight to the community,” she said.
The Tribal Council also is very thankful for the Salem Walmart.
“They make sure that they have everything in stock, we are in and out of here in no time and they give us a discount for shopping here, so that’s more toys that we can buy,” McCrary said.
During the trip, she likes seeing the sixth-graders participate for the first time.
“I just hope they take away from this that they really do see what their efforts are going toward, they do see that the kids in the community are getting toys, they can really see the end result of their efforts,” she said. “Then I hope that helps make them want to be on student council again next year and help kind of lead the charge.”
While it was the eighth-graders’ final shopping trip with the Tribal Council, McCrary said she hopes they find ways to give back in the future.
“I hope when they are at the high school, they can remember what they’ve done here and just how great that giving back feeling is and continue to do some things,” she said.
From her perspective, McCrary said it’s rewarding to see the students’ determination with the project.
“It just is great to see how seriously they take it, how thoughtful they are when they are buying gifts. They really want the kids to enjoy what they have, and so it just really teaches them about giving back,” she said.
“I know sometimes kids kind of get a bad rap of ‘Oh, kids these days’ or whatever,” she said. “But kids these days are pretty awesome, and they are very powerful, more so than they get credit for.”
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“I know sometimes kids kind of get a bad rap of ‘Oh, kids these days’ or whatever. But kids these days are pretty awesome, and they are very powerful, more so than they get credit for.”
Brownstown Central Middle School Tribal Council Adviser Alicia McCrary