Students in Mrs. Phelan's second grade class at Westmere Elementary School in Guilderland raised money for a Schoharie County school hit hard by Tropical Storm Irene. The idea for the gently used toy and game sale came from Phelan, students and a contact with the Middleburgh Central School, which sustained severe damage to its wood shop and technology center.
“I was just going to have my class donate their toys, because I didn’t want it to be too huge, ‘cause I was afraid if we could handle it,” said Phelan. “Then, we really didn’t have enough, so I asked staff if they had any toys from their family.”
Phelan wound up sending out a flyer to every family and student in the school. The result was a hallway of tables filled with slightly used toys and games.
Along with completing their basic class work, the students were also helping to develop a makeshift department store they called G.U.T.A.G.’s, which stands for Gently Used Toys and Games. Two or three students at a time would run the store, helping parents, teachers and fellow students make purchases.
“It’s fun to do projects like this, and it’s important to do them, but you also have to do the regular stuff, too,” said Phelan. “It’s great because you can combine them.”
Jennifer Rehberg, a teacher at Middleburgh Central School, called the Westmere students “amazing young citizens.”
“We appreciate their efforts and the support that so many have shown our community as we continue to recover,” said Rehberg. “They exemplify the holiday spirit and we thank them for their thoughtfulness and generosity.”
Phelan said the sale was a win-win for everyone involved.
‘Some kids were buying gifts for the holidays,” said Phelan. “Those kids feel like they’re giving to the cause. People got rid of toys, kids were buying things and teachers were buying things for their classrooms.”
The students raised about $1,000 through the sale. Phelan said that the idea could work for other classes and schools looking to raise money for a good cause.