The Woodward News

Local News

December 15, 2013

Students change lives through giving

Woodward, Okla. — Learning the culture of giving is as much a lesson in life as any type of learning, said Horace Mann Elementary School Counselor Jill Rogers.

For that reason, students at the school were given the opportunity to practice the art of giving with the "Change a Life at Christmas" program.

"The kids are just so excited about this," Rogers said. "It's been so good for them and for us too."

The concept of the giving program isn't difficult. Children wander by the money containers and drop change in the container that represents their grade, Rogers said.

The money will be turned over to Merciful Angel Outreach directors Tom Brown and his wife Gale Brown.

"Merciful Angels is a local program created to help those in need regardless of race, creed, color, or even religious beliefs," reads its mission statement on its webpage. "For these are the loving ways of Christ. We take most anything and turn it into something useful for those in desperate need."

The impact to a child's sense of community when they become a part of one of these programs is notable, Rogers said.

"I have seen the kids who really don't have anything giving. Sometimes it is just a penny, but it all matters and it all counts," Rogers said.

Perhaps the best way to measure the experience, though, is through the voice of some of the children who chose to make it their mission this year to donate.

Consider 9-year-old Lily Nippert who has challenged herself, and by proxy her parents, to give and give some more and then when it really hurts, try once more.

"I first gave $20 and then I had another $20, so I gave that one too," Nippert said. "Then I went home and asked my father if I could just have the change he had and he gave me a $50 for it."

For Nippert, who readily admits she is lucky to have never lived through a lean Christmas, the program was a chance for her to include others in one of her favorite times of year.

"It makes me feel good because they are going to get stuff for Christmas," she said.

Typical all boy fifth-grader Andrew Fargo was more pragmatic about the act of giving. Yet, his own last minute decision surprised even himself at little.

"Well, it was my dad's money but what happened was my brother was asking for money for Smencils and stuff (popular scented pencils sold at school) and so I asked for $10 for this (the change program) and also some Smencils too," Fargo said. "But then, instead of buying the Smencils, I just donated all the money."

When he tells the story, his face still holds a look of puzzlement when he gets to the end of it - that while there were things he wanted for himself, he still gave it up for someone else.

"Well, I guess I'd be upset if I didn't get to have a Christmas and I bet the other kids would be too. So that's why I did it," he said.

According to Rogers, when school staff heard about his act of selflessness, they presented him with a Smencil.

"He had no idea we were going to do that and you should have seen his face when he realized his act of giving found its way all the way back to him," Rogers said.

Second grader Baylee Goree is no talker.

The serious minded, all business 8-year-old didn't have much to say about why he donated money, other than he just wanted to, mainly on his mother's suggestion.

"My mom gave me the money and I just put it in there," he said.

Third grader Kelton Smith dug around in his wallet and then, when that wasn't enough, decided it was time to shake down the piggy bank.

In all, Smith rounded up about $5 of money, long stored and saved from various chores such as mopping, he said. Some of the money also were gifts from family throughout the year.

"I just thought it would be nice to give this money so parents could get their kids something for Christmas," he said.

According to Rogers, any parents or community members need only drop by the school and drop in some change. The containers are in the front lobby, Rogers said.

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