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Students shop for Toys for Tots


DEXTER—Students from Dexter Elementary School got to play Santa for children in need this holiday season with a shopping trip to Target and Walmart in Watertown. The presents they purchased will go to Toys for Tots for children in Jefferson County who might not otherwise get Christmas presents.

Violet L. Woodard, local coordinator for Toys for Tots, said she helps bring toys to children from one end of Jefferson County to the other. Dexter Elementary School, Ohio Street School and Lyme Central School are some of the schools that Ms. Woodard said support the Christmas charity.

“The schools have always been great with getting toys for us,” Ms. Woodard said. “We just want to make sure everyone gets a Christmas.”

Dexter Elementary School teacher Meredith Connell said students have been making the trip for more than 11 years. The students raise money and use it to pick out toys for boys and girls. She said they give any extra money to the Red Cross. On Friday, Mrs. Connell and Emily Aumell’s sixth grade students did their shopping at Walmart and Anne Duffney and Mary Vodicka’s fifth grade classes shopped at Target.

“We all picked out something,” sixth grade student Allison A. Aumell said.

The students bought Lego sets, stuffed animals, Barbie dolls, bouncy balls, Hot Wheels games and board games like Candy Land, Apples and Apples and other gifts.

“We got lots of stuff,” Peyton M. Alverson said. “I like the sock monkey and the Spiderman Mr. Potato head.”

Peyton said he liked shopping for kids in the area who might not have any toys.

“We really want kids to get involved with helping out in their community,” Mrs. Connell said. “I think they need more of that today.”

Each class raised between $100 and $150 and was given an additional $200 per class from the Parent Teacher Organization. Mrs. Connell said with the $500 her class brought, a $50 gift card from Walmart and a 10 percent discount from the store to purchase the gifts, the class was able to purchase more than 70 gifts and the fifth grade class purchased 60 for Toys for Tots. A remaining $20 was donated to the Red Cross.

“It’s always so much fun to watch them. I could barely keep them calm this morning; they were really excited to shop for kids that might not have a toy this year,” Mrs. Connell said.

Ms. Woodard said she’ll be collecting toys from donation sites from Monday to Dec. 22. Toys for Tots will give five presents each to the almost 1,000 kids in the area who have applied this Christmas.

“We sort the gifts by age and we bring toys to a party where kids can meet Santa and they’ll get their presents,” Ms. Woodard said. “Some parents pick up the gifts and bring them home so they can open on Christmas.”

The organization for the Toys for Tots group has become a family tradition for Ms. Woodard.

“My dad’s been doing this for 15 years. I just started over the last year,” Ms. Woodard said.

For more information about how to donate a gift or money to Toys for Tots, call Ms. Woodard at 862-6983 or visit the website at

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