Spreading Christmas cheer

Sawyer fifth-graders hold ‘candy gram’ fundraiser

Alyssa Leath, a fifth-grader at K.I. Sawyer Elementary School, holds one of many toys that will be distributed to The Mining Journal's Cheer Club courtesy of a 'candy gram" fundraiser. Alyssa’s class led that fundraiser during the holidays to help area children. (Journal photo by Christie Bleck)

K.I. SAWYER — Candy with a message led to toys for kids who might not be expecting an overabundance of them under their Christmas trees this year.

Jessica Gustitis’ fifth-grade class at K.I. Sawyer Elementary School has been participating in a student-led project to help other kids during the holidays.

Coming to her with the idea was one of her students, Alyssa Leath.

Alyssa said she was thinking of a fundraiser, and approached Gustitis with that thought.

They came up with the idea of “candy grams.”

“We combined candy canes and had little message cards to fill out,” Alyssa said.

The candy canes, she noted, were sold during lunch time and concerts.

From the profits, which totaled $256, toys like LEGOs, scooters, saucer sleds, Nerf toys and an electric vehicle were purchased for The Mining Journal’s Cheer Club.

Toys donated to the club are given to area kids up to age 14.

The fifth-graders’ classroom floor was a little messy earlier this week, but that was expected considering the scope of the project.

“Now we’re just putting our candy canes and our messages together, and then we’re going to deliver them to the classrooms on Thursday,” Alyssa said.

Gustitis said parents and their kids bought the original candy canes, which students then could purchase for their friends for 50 cents each.

The candy canes were not just the standard red-and-white variety but other color combinations as well.

“They thought this was a nice idea,” Gustitis said of the project.

Fifth-grader Antonio Kerr chimed in on the reason behind the fundraiser.

“Some kids usually don’t have any toys on Christmas Day,” Antonio said. “All they get is clothes or something, so all of our class decided to buy some toys for some kids that don’t have any toys or anything.”

Clothes, of course, are necessary items, but most kids would agree a LEGO set is more fun.

Gustitis said the students made a list of what toys kids their age would receive. She then took their list and purchased what they told her to buy.

A raffle also was held for a 2-foot candy cane, which Alyssa said a first-grade girl won.

It wasn’t just toys that will be distributed throughout the community courtesy of K.I. Sawyer Elementary School.

A table near one entrance of the school was filled with food items bought with money donated by teachers, Gustitis said.

Also, EHAM, or Ending Hunger Alliance of Marquette, has chosen K.I. Sawyer Elementary to distribute food for breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks for families in need over break, she said, with the Gwinn Education Association donating $100 worth of food to the cause.

She said many volunteers were to unload food today, and then the fifth-graders and more volunteers will pack the food for each family Thursday.

However, special credit can be given to the fifth-graders for their holiday efforts to help their peers through the candy grams.

“We thought it was a nice way to spread Christmas cheer in the building,” Gustitis said.

Christie Bleck can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250. Her email address is cbleck@miningjournal.net.