Lifestyle

Students share holiday cheer

Local families are helping to feed each other through several of their children’s schools.

“I feel sad about homeless people — I don’t want them to starve,” said Mark Getzlaff, 11, a sixth-grader at Mirror Lake Elementary.

Getzlaff is a student in Chris Andrews’ class. At the halfway mark through Mirror Lake’s annual holiday food drive, it’s Andrews’ class leading the school’s collection efforts so far.

“Throughout the school, students have brought in 1,102 items as of Dec. 5,” Andrews said.

He said the response has been huge because charity has been in the students’ consciousness.

“We talk about it every day, and also the importance of helping others throughout the year, not just during this holiday season,” he said.

Marika Gard, school secretary at Enterprise Elementary, said students participating in the Families Helping Families program stand to aid more than 40 families this holiday season.

“We see many little miracles unfold to make our annual event happen,” Gard said.

For each child in the recipient families, Gard is cutting out a paper star. On each, she writes the child’s age and gender. Once laid out, anyone in the school or community can pick up a star to purchase and wrap a respective Christmas gift.

It may be a simple act of charity, Gard said, but it can change the whole holiday season for some.

“For some of our families, this is the only gift their children will receive,” she said.

Over at Sunnycrest Elementary, the annual food drive kicks off Monday, and many students will start school next week with arms brimming with non-perishable food items. The food will go to help families whose children attend the school.

“I am constantly amazed at the number of families we have who contributed food to others even though I know they haven’t that much themselves,” said Trese Graddon, a Sunnycrest third-grade teacher and food drive organizer.

“We deliver the food and last year, for instance, a little eight- or nine-year-old boy I didn’t know came up to me the next day and enthusiastically thanked me,” Graddon said. “That was so touching.”

Star Lake Elementary also starts its food collection efforts Monday. Principal Jeanette Bullock reminded students that some people who don’t yet attend school should be remembered during the holidays. She asked the children to bring infant and baby foods in the collection effort.

“We’re also collecting children’s socks and underwear,” Bullock added, “items not typically available in the thrift stores.”

AREA FOOD DRIVES

Mirror Lake Elementary: The food drive runs through Friday. All donations will be gathered and brought to a Dec. 19 school assembly before being donated to the Federal Way Food Bank. For more information, contact Chris Andrews at (253) 945-3392.

Enterprise Elementary: Community, staff and families are providing food, clothing and a gift for all children among the families being helped this year. The drive continues through Dec. 14. Contact Marika Gard at (253) 945-2601 for more information.

Sunnycrest Elementary: Food drive for school families runs from Monday through Dec. 18. For information to make donations, contact Trese Graddon at (253) 945-4121.

Star Lake Elementary: Food drive runs from Monday to Dec. 20. Proceeds will be donated to Northwest Harvest and Star Lake families who request assistance. Also, a Giving Tree will provide new socks and underwear for children of all ages with its proceeds going to the Federal Way-PTA Clothing Bank. For information, contact Suzan Wambold at (253) 945-4008 or (253) 945-4001.

Charitable organization Northwest Harvest collects and distributes food to more than 280 independent

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