UPPER MARLBORO – The Christmas spirit really took over at Barack Obama Elementary School as the entire community rallied behind the vision of a group of girls who wanted to make Christmas a little brighter for homeless children. Alexis Mincey, Laiylah Hall, Jordynn Madden, who are fourth and fifth grade girls at Barack Obama, came […]
UPPER MARLBORO – The Christmas spirit really took over at Barack Obama Elementary School as the entire community rallied behind the vision of a group of girls who wanted to make Christmas a little brighter for homeless children.
Alexis Mincey, Laiylah Hall, Jordynn Madden, who are fourth and fifth grade girls at Barack Obama, came to their assistant principal early in December with an idea – they wanted to make Christmas a little more special for children who wouldn’t have a traditional Christmas.
“December is the month of giving, so we thought it would be kind of nice to give presents away to less fortunate kids,” Mincey said.
Michelle Jefferson-Lambert, the assistant principal at Barack Obama, said the girls initially came to her to pitch the idea, saying they wanted to fill stockings for orphans. They said they wanted to host a school-wide fundraiser asking students to bring in toys, books, arts and crafts supplies and candy to fill stockings for “kids who wouldn’t get a Christmas.”
“Some people don’t care about other people and they don’t get presents,” Hall said.
With the ambition of giving children a little something for Christmas, they set their goal at 100 stockings.
“And I said, ‘that’s a little ambitious for a week and a half, but lets go for it,’” Jefferson-Lambert said. “So we went about doing it.”
The students made morning announcement videos and created donation boxes and posters, and the response was much greater than they anticipated. The girls estimated they spent two weeks working on the project – spending hours after school creating their videos and posters.
The fundraiser ran from Dec. 9 through Dec. 16 and the group gathered thousands of toys and treats.
“I saw a bunch of toys and I almost cried because I was so happy,” Mincey said.
“When I told my mom, she went into her room and told my dad and we were so happy. They gave me bunches of hugs,” Madden said.
Jefferson-Lambert and the students spread out the donations in a separate room and took two days to put together the stockings. The whole school took part in the project as the teachers and staff even spent their free time putting together stockings. Jefferson-Lambert said that though the project was completely the work of the students, it became a collaborative effort.
“It really was. That’s what the beautiful thing is. The teachers were very proud,” Jefferson-Lambert said. “Barack Obama is a very collaborative community. The collaborative spirit here is part of the culture. I can’t say that it’s unusual, but it’s nice.”
Mincey, Hall and Madden reached their goal of 100 stockings and had candy and toys to spare thanks to their hard work and the giving spirit of their class and schoolmates.
“It feels amazing,” Madden said about reaching their goal. “Obviously, when I thought of the idea, and then saw how many toys we got, I felt I had to cry about something.”
The 100 stockings were donated to Martha’s Table, a non-profit based in Washington, D.C. that provides supports to children and families through healthy food, affordable clothing and quality education.
Beyond doing a great thing for other children, Jefferson-Lambert said the project also showed teachers and administrators at Barack Obama that their lessons and hard work are paying off, especially when students feel like they can and should take on such a large project on their own.
“The teachers really talk a lot about culture in the building and they try to integrate real-life experience within the activities they do, in every lesson, and I think that rang through with this project,” Jefferson-Lambert said.
Both the girls and Jefferson-Lambert agreed this isn’t the end for their project – it is something that could become a Barack Obama Elementary tradition.