Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Living Christmas Spirit; Yulee: Students Show Generosity to Less-Fortunate

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Living Christmas Spirit; Yulee: Students Show Generosity to Less-Fortunate

Article excerpt

Byline: Alison Trinidad, Nassau Neighbors staff writer

One girl's generosity has become one school's inspiration to shower less-fortunate children with toys and school supplies.

A rainbow of stuffed animals -- from Care Bears to Beanie Babies, Blue's Clues to Oscar the Grouch -- spilled from the stage and onto the floor at Yulee Primary School's cafeteria Friday, the last day before Christmas break.

More than 600 pre-kindergarten through second-grade students at the school collected enough toys and boxes of school supplies to send to 200 needy children in Juarez, Mexico.

And it all started with one 8-year-old's idea.

Last year, Tiffany Gill of Yulee gave a letter and a stuffed animal to her music teacher, Gaye Foote, who spent a weeklong mission in Juarez with her church.

"From Tiff," she wrote. "To: all the children. I don't know what to say."

Kim Denmark, Tiffany's mother, said her daughter overheard Foote describing some of the living conditions in Juarez, just south of the Rio Grande, mere miles from El Paso, Texas.

"She wanted to send toys to the little kids over there, and I guess that's pretty much how it started," Denmark said. "She had first gotten a bag of toys together, toys you didn't think she'd want to give away."

But Foote could take only one, so Tiffany chose a stuffed lizard. An 8-year-old Mexican girl received that toy.

"This little girl was like many of the others living in Juarez," according to a flier sent home to students this year. "She was living with her family in a one-room wooden pallet house with no electricity or running water. The family had a hanging sheet for a front door, a bed, a few clothes and just a little food. Since this little girl had no toys to speak of, she was so excited to have something to play with."

Foote's church is returning to Juarez in March, but this time there will be room for more than one stuffed animal.

The teacher attached Tiffany's original letter to the flier and sent it home to students, asking for small, gently used stuffed animals or school supplies. …

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