There were no Scrooges at New Richmond’s Monroe Elementary this holiday season.
Monroe students voted to give up their traditional gift exchange parties in favor of making donations to charitable organizations such as the Clermont County Humane Society’s Animal Shelter to the Ronald McDonald House.
The second grade classes of teachers Greg Chandler, Staci Heiden, Jennifer Huelsmann and Melanie Shoemaker and third grade classes of teachers Janet Grooms, Jennifer Mills and Cathy Singleton started the tradition in 2008 when they voted to bring in items for the Animal Shelter in lieu of a gift exchange party.
The second and third grade classes again voted to support the Animal Shelter. The kindergarten and first grade classes of teachers Rachel Hale, Barbara Holman, Patricia Piper, Leigh Fritz, Malinda Hawkins and Beverley Lesko voted to support the Boys and Girls Club.
The fifth grade classes of teachers Megan Ehlers, Rachel Fehr and Julie Yaden choose the Ronald McDonald House while the sixth grade classes of teachers Janice Fender, Elizabeth Florea and Lauren Lindsley split their gifts between the Animal Shelter and St. Joseph's Orphanage.
In addition to filling large Santa bags for the orphanage, Mrs. Fender's students wrote letters to the orphans telling them a little bit about themselves, their community and school and how they came to the decision to donate their exchange gifts.
"I think it is wonderful that the students of Monroe Elementary are so caring and giving," said Monroe principal Mark Bailey. "This is something the students wanted to do. They did not receive any encouragement from our staff."
In addition to the gifts from the students, Monroe collected 3,096 food items for the New Richmond Food Pantry.
Monroe teachers Adrian Hawk and Karen McCann promoted the food drive by having students in their Art & Earth Club and G.A.T.E.S. Collaboration students design and build sculptures from donated items that will serve as a culminating product of the collection efforts.
Students involved in the art project were fourth grade students Kara O'Toole, Andrew Bach, Elise Bezold and Kiae Marshall; fifth grade students Jude Utsinger, Zachary Neeley, Cortney Smith and Elisabeth Walters; and sixth grade students Ben Hamilton, Cydney Stiles and Erin O'Toole.
"This helps to really send an important message to our community about the real meaning of the holiday season," Bailey said.