By Stacey Bomser
Gator Run Elementary students learned a valuable lesson this past holiday season – that it’s better to give than receive.
For the past eight years, Gator Run students have generously donated toys for students at Walker Elementary in Fort Lauderdale. The relationship between the two schools started after a former Gator Run assistant principal moved to Walker Elementary and recognized the need at her new school.
Gator Run School Counselors Lindsay Weinstock and Jackie Grasinger coordinate the toy drive. Ms. Weinstock says it’s important to engage young children in the act of charity. “It helps students recognize how lucky they are and teaches the importance of helping others who are not as fortunate.”
The toy drive is a schoolwide event, with each grade level collecting toys appropriate for their age level. “This allows students at Gator Run to not only help other children in need but allows the students to feel that they made a positive difference in a child just like them to have a wonderful holiday,” explains Ms. Weinstock.
Because each classroom collects toy donations, the teachers play a big role in teaching students about giving. “We explain that presents are going to a student their age at a school nearby whose family cannot afford to buy presents,” explains Ms. Weinstock. “We discuss how they would feel waking up on the holidays or their birthdays without anything to open.”
That’s a message the Gator Run students receive loud and clear. Each year the amount of donations exceeds all expectations.
Walker Elementary has approximately 600 students. Ms. Weinstock says in 2016 Gator Run set a goal to collect enough toys so that each student at Walker would take home one toy for the holiday. “Gator Run surpassed that goal and was able to collect over 1,400 toys! We set out to collect 1,500 this year (2017), and hope to continue to grow the amount of toys in years to come.”
Once the toys were collected, Gator Run administrators, guidance counselors and PTA volunteers caravaned to Walker Elementary to deliver the gifts just in time for the holidays. Ms. Weinstock says the school is always appreciative for the generosity of the Gator Run families.
Following last year’s donation, Walker Elementary Math Coach Gina Kerkerian shared, “Thank you, again, for all that you guys did! We truly appreciate your support. There is no doubt in my mind our kids will have a wonderful holiday because of your efforts and dedication.”