Junior honor society wraps annual warm clothing drive

Students raise $1,359 to purchase winter clothes for 27 youngsters

Marilyn Caneloupe and her Cottonwood Middle School students purchase clothing for the needy at Walmart on Wednesday. VVN/Vyto Starinskas

Marilyn Caneloupe and her Cottonwood Middle School students purchase clothing for the needy at Walmart on Wednesday. VVN/Vyto Starinskas

Students raised $1,359 in Cottonwood Middle School's warm clothing coin drive this year, bringing winter outfits to 27 kids.

Seventh grade science teacher Marilyn Canteloupe said the National Junior Honor Society members run the competitive fundraiser as part of their community service projects.

The school's 19 homerooms compete for hot cocoa, marshmallow and donut parties.

This year's winners were Calliandra Brooks' sixth grade class, Laurie Battiston's seventh grade class, and Danny Watkins' Bridgeway class.

NJHS members shopped for the outfits on Wednesday, and were responsible for staying within a budget. They work with Catholic Charities, the organization that provides the list of names and sizes.

"We were at Walmart, and we finally have that down to a science," Canteloupe said.

Previous years of the fundraiser have been slightly chaotic, organizing specific items for each recipient. As the group checks out, Canteloupe said each outfit is rung up one at a time, placed in its own bag, and labeled with the child's name.

Aside from the service aspect of it, Canteloupe said this particular project stands out because NJHS members get to help out younger children while also learning valuable life skills.

"They have to figure out how much they're spending; they really work hard to get the most bang for their buck," she said.

"They really put a lot of thought into getting the outfits, and looking to see that maybe they can't buy a $40 jacket."

The funds raised worked out to about $50 per child, and NJHS members each shopped for two or three kids. Canteloupe said the middle schoolers puzzle over choices, prices and combinations as they shop.

"If you're 11 or 12 or 13, you may not have done something like that before," she said.

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