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Young Students Learn To Embrace Giving Spirit


A fourth grade class at Dent Elementary School is going to be celebrating Valentine’s Day a little differently this year.

But it’s still all about heart.

The students in Whitney Turner’s class are bringing in items that will be turned over to representatives of a couple area human services organizations on Feb. 11, with the items helping out those in need.

“We sent a letter home and it started out as a class project,” said co-organizer Tracey Miller. “It’s called ‘Expressions of Love’ and now we have opened it up to anybody that wants to donate.”

Items being sought are small toiletries, non-perishable food items, clothing and blankets. Also needed are bags of individually wrapped candies.

Miller said the students are foregoing their traditional Valentine’s Day party, choosing to give to those less fortunate. They usually have a variety of game stations and play for small prizes during their Valentine’s party, but this year will ‘win’ by paying it forward.

“We went to social media,” Miller said of the ‘love’ effort. “I posted it on my Facebook page, opened it up to anybody that wants to donate … the more we can give them, the better.”

The fourth graders will still exchange Valentine cards but are bringing the items in for the Thursday, Feb. 11 delivery. That day, representatives from the Center for a Non-Violent Community and St. Mary’s Dining Room will be on hand to accept the donations.

“I actually had four or five people reach out to me that are going to give donations,” noted Miller.

St. Mary’s serves a number of communities in San Joaquin County, helping provide food for the homeless, overnight shelter and hosting both food and clothes closets.

The Center focuses on working with victims of domestic violence, anti-bullying campaigns and more.

“Their specific need is for candy – individually wrapped candy is their greatest need right now, they said it helps when they are doing counseling with the kids,” Miller said.

She added that the Center does receive funding but can’t use it for candy purchases, so that is tops on their wish list at the moment.

Representatives from both groups will offer information to students about what their organizations do, said Miller, so the kids will know how their donation will help. The idea actually was brought up by a student just before Christmas, as she has an aunt that works with one of the groups. Though it was too late then for a donation before the holidays, the class decided to show their love at Valentine’s Day.

For more information, contact Miller at 595-6735. Arrangements can be made with her for donations from the community; all the donations will be presented in the classroom on Feb. 11.