Before students at Westbrook Elementary headed off for winter break, they gave and received Warm Winter Wishes. The small gesture of a candy cane and note for 25 cents is raising money for families in need.
The student council has sold the candy-grams for years, but this year they broke a record. They sold 2,500 Warm Winter Wishes. Student Council Advisor Kaylee Gillespie said, "we were cleaning out all the stores for candy canes this year." Her co-advisor, Sam Loeffler told us, "we had to go out and buy, I think it was, 500 more candy canes than what we had planned on from the year before."
Bailey Shepherd is on the student council. She talked about the joy students feel when they receive a Warm Winter Wish. "It makes you happy that your friends want to spend their own money to give you something."
The benefits go beyond that.
The more than $500 raised will go toward the school's Helping Hearts and Hands Fund. Westbrook Elementary is a Title 1 school which means it has a relatively high number of children who receive free and reduced lunch. This money can go toward basic necessities a Westbrook family may need. Principal Tyler Hottovy said, "It's basically an assistance fund for families that might need it. So the nice thing is all this money stays in our school. If we have a family who needs help with utilities or water turning back on we can use it for that." In the past they've helped families with medical care as well.
The principal and teachers say this program is very special because they are able to help children beyond the classroom. "They are like our own kids so being able to give them something when they need it, it's really wonderful," said Gillespie.