SOUTHEAST LOCAL SCHOOLS -- Short of Santa Claus himself, students at Fredericksburg and Holmesville Elementary Schools proved they are the best Christmas shoppers for kids their age.
Fredericksburg students went holiday shopping for the Christian Children's Home of Ohio while Holmesville shopped for Salvation Army's Toys for Tots drive. Each school raised money and took separate trips to Walmart in Millersburg to fulfill the wish lists of boys and girls across the county.
The holiday shopping tradition began at Fredericksburg Elementary, but when Christa Frantz became the principal of both schools in 2013, she decided to introduce the charitable activity at Holmesville too a couple years later.
"Being principal at both schools, I saw the great experience it was and I wanted Holmesville students to have that as well," Frantz said.
Students had about an hour to shop, check out and get everything loaded into cars before jumping back on the bus. Their good behavior impressed Frantz, who brought more than 100 kids into the store to shop.
"Their behavior was so outstanding. You would never have known there were 100-plus kids in the store. That's something we really shine on," she said.
Christian Children's Home gave Fredericksburg students a list of items they wanted to distribute to the cottages on site. Each grade level picked out a movie and purchased clothes, crafts, gardening tools, kitchen supplies, office supplies and sports equipment.
Holmesville kids shopped for toys they thought kids their age would want most. The school divided the money raised equally among all the classes, then the teachers divided that money equally among their student groups.
"What's neat about elementary students is they understand what kids want because they already have an idea about what they want for Christmas," said Doug Flynn, a representative with Toys for Tots. "The kids do better at shopping then the adults."
Teachers try to build the activity into their social studies curriculum as well as an economics unit. Students learned about data collection, leadership and public service.
The shopping experience also taught kids how to budget their money. The Barbie princess carriage at $350 was not in the budget.
"The first-grade group picked out one toy then they saw something else and said, 'Maybe this is a better choice.' So they switched out their toy and then asked, 'Well, can we do that because the other toy was $12 and this one is $14. Are we going to have enough money to pay?' So we had a little bit of academics going on in the fun," Frantz said.
Holmesville also was able to include their multi-handicap students and the staff learned more about their students talking to them about their own Christmas wish lists.
"As a staff, we like it because it gives us another insight into our students and getting to know them on a little bit different level," Frantz said. "For our multi-handicap unit, this was a big experience to be able to go and participate like they did."
Reporter Emily Morgan can be reached at 330-287-1632 or firstname.lastname@example.org.