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Seneca Valley Stuffs a Bus for Toys for Tots

The middle school’s “Cougar” academic team leads the toy drive to help needy children.

Students at Seneca Valley Middle School just got their hands on some shiny new Christmas toys—and promptly donated them to charity.

The seventh-graders, part of the “Cougars” academic team, on Tuesday stuffed a school bus with toys—collected by fellow students—which were taken to the Toys for Tots drop off location at Moraine Point Plaza in Butler.

Since October, students at the middle, intermediate and senior high school, as well as the administrative team at the central office, have been collecting toys to assist the U.S. Marine Corps Reserves-sponsored nonprofit.

This year, the Cougars, who spearheaded the collection drive, received 1,100 new and unwrapped toys for needy children. Health teacher Mickey Flood said the amount fell just short of their goal of collecting 1,500 toys.

“It’s still a fantastic number, though,” he said.

A big part of reaching that number was seventh-grader Maddie Smith. With help from her family, the 12-year-old brought in 113 new toys.

“I was just blown away by that,” Flood said.

Maddie said her family typically chooses to help a family in need each Christmas through her church.

“This year, we thought we should do Toys for Tots” said Maddie, who added she had fun shopping for the presents.

She wasn’t the only one having a good time.

In November, the middle school’s student council sponsored a holiday dance to raise money for Toys for Tots. Last week, the kids duct taped performing arts teacher Oliver Wiehe to a wall. Each student who brought in a toy was given a piece of tape to help “stick” Wiehe to the building.  

Surprisingly, Flood said Wiehe volunteered for the honor. He even filmed it for a special to be aired in front of the entire student body.

Flood said other homerooms competed to see who could bring in the most toys. Another academic team, the Panthers, raised money to buy a bike and matching helmet for the program, something they do every year, according to teacher Larry Wendereusz

“It really is something,” he said.   

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