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Students collect items for needy families

The Community Service Club at Newton County Theme School collected items for military families this month. Hundreds of items have been collected and will be delivered to the USO in Atlanta or shipped to those serving in other countries. The club will hold another fundraiser for more items in the spring. Pictured are Taylor Adams, Mia Berry, Brittni Bivins, Jay Butler, Braxton Buff, Carmen Crowell, Abby Fincher, Laila Maddox, Christopher Martin, Olyvia Monteagudo, Kennedi Rogers, Ansley Schell, Nia Simons, Abigail Sugg, Tyjah Tuggle, Nyla Wooden and staff Crystal Bruno and Katie Sauls.

The Community Service Club at Newton County Theme School collected items for military families this month. Hundreds of items have been collected and will be delivered to the USO in Atlanta or shipped to those serving in other countries. The club will hold another fundraiser for more items in the spring. Pictured are Taylor Adams, Mia Berry, Brittni Bivins, Jay Butler, Braxton Buff, Carmen Crowell, Abby Fincher, Laila Maddox, Christopher Martin, Olyvia Monteagudo, Kennedi Rogers, Ansley Schell, Nia Simons, Abigail Sugg, Tyjah Tuggle, Nyla Wooden and staff Crystal Bruno and Katie Sauls.

COVINGTON -- Area students have been in the giving mood this month.

Several schools in Newton and Rockdale counties have collected items for military families, students affected by Superstorm Sandy and local homeless shelters and food banks.

During the Newton County School System's annual Can-A-Thon, more than 16,000 cans of food were collected and will be distributed to the community Food Pantry and the Salvation Army.

Several schools collected more than 1,000 cans of food this year, and two schools collected 2,000-plus cans -- Mansfield and Oak Hill elementary schools.

"Our school district has always been very supportive of community needs," said NCSS Superintendent Gary Mathews. "Even during these tough economic times, our students and employees have once again risen to the occasion and shown their generosity and community spirit by providing food items."

Indian Creek Middle School in Covington sponsored a special back to school drive for two elementary schools in Little Ferry, N.J. -- Washington and Memorial elementary schools -- which were affected by Superstorm Sandy in late October. The schools originally were used as evacuation centers, but the storm forced them to relocate; the schools flooded, and students are now having classes in an old Catholic school.

When ICMS teacher Janice Butts, a native of the area, heard about the destruction, she told her students, who immediately wanted to help.

Her students collected pencils, paper, crayons and other school items for the students. They will continue to collect items until Nov. 30 and are asking the PTO and Partners in Education to help ship the items straight to the school, instead of having to go through another agency.

Peachtree Academy Private School recently held its Give Thanks Day, an annual observance held during the month of November in which students and staff give back to the community. Students in pre-K through 12th grade identified class projects, such as building Hero boxes to send to troops serving overseas and hosting an appreciation luncheon for police officers, firefighters and emergency workers who serve in the community.

Students and their families also gathered non-perishable food items for local food pantries and winter coats, blankets, hats and gloves to provide to homeless shelters for those most in need.

At Davis Middle and Hightower Trail Elementary schools in Conyers, staff put up trees with various gifts listed on them from school families in need of some extra help this holiday season. Schools are collecting items until Dec. 7 at HTE and Dec. 12 at DMS.

In December, Pine Street Elementary School will sponsor 30 children at the school for holiday gifts, and from Dec. 3 through 18, Lorraine Elementary School will set up its annual Warm Hugs Mitten Tree to collect gifts for needy community members that will be donated to the Rockdale Community Clothes Closet.

Several Rockdale schools also are collecting food items.

Students at Flat Shoals Elementary School already collected more than 1,400 food items and Peek's Chapel Elementary School collected more than 700 canned food items for the Rockdale County Emergency Relief Fund. Pine Street and Barksdale elementary schools also collected about 300 and more than 950 food items, respectively.

In October, C.J. Hicks participated in the 2012 Atlanta Fal-Can Food Drive School Challenge and collected more than 700 pounds of food items for the Atlanta Community Food Bank. This month, the school collected money and food to feed more than 30 school families in need.

Hightower Trail Elementary also is collecting nonperishable can or boxed items for local food banks until Dec. 7, and Lorraine is collecting items until Dec. 12 for the Rockdale County Food Bank. Memorial Middle School is collecting canned goods for the Conyers food bank.

Some schools awarded prizes for classes with the most collections or best decorated collection box.

Memorial Middle and Sims Elementary schools also collected shoes for the SOUL Project this month.

Lorraine Elementary School recently held its 16th annual Give a Helping Paw clothing drive. Students collected more than 25 large bags and boxes full of winter clothing and bedding for adults and children. The items were donated to the Rockdale Community Clothes Closet for distribution to local families in need.

The school will hold a spring clothing drive from April 8 through 12 for warm-weather clothing.

From Dec. 3 through 7, the school's PTO will hold a toy drive in which families are asked to donate new or gently used toys to donate to the Clothes Closet.