The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

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December 20, 2013

Community rallies behind teacher in spirit of giving

PITTSBURG, Kan. — Focused on the spirit of giving, English teacher Angela Martino-Lewis announced on Nov. 6 a small goal to meet by Christmas: to get enough items from friends, family and community members to fill 20 stockings to distribute to students at Pittsburg Community Middle School.

She began with a simple request on Facebook: If you’d like to participate, buy a stocking at a discount store and fill it with inexpensive goodies like bath salts, hair accessories or hand lotion for a girl, or items like trading cards, Chapstick or a new pair of mittens for a boy.  

On Thursday, her goal was not only met, it was far surpassed.

“We had enough to distribute 125 stockings,” she said.

Although Martino-Lewis conceived the idea, she credits the givers with the project’s success.

Guidance counselor Teresa Spangler said some givers had some connection to Pittsburg schools through children or grandchildren who attend, but others live in Frontenac, have children or grandchildren who attend St. Mary’s-Colgan, and some don’t have any children or grandchildren at all.

“They just loved the idea of giving to kids,” said Principal Lonnie Moser.

He praised the community for its willingness to give, and Martino-Lewis for her efforts to spearhead the project.

“She knows how to mobilize our community to support our kids,” he said.

The Pittsburg Realtors Association took on the Christmas campaign as a special project. Spangler reported the group contributed 40 to 50 stockings.

All givers got creative, she said.

“They had everything from hygiene items to hats and gloves to candy, school supplies, blankets, gift cards to Wal-Mart, restaurants, the movies, DVDs, wallets, makeup, etc.,” Spangler said.

School staff distributed the stockings throughout the day, and Spangler and Martino-Lewis both described the reactions of the recipients as “priceless.”

“Some kids even wanted to get things out of their stockings and share what they got with us. Some said it wasn’t a tradition in their home and they had never gotten one before,” Spangler said. “It was such a touching thing.”

Contributors who learned of the project’s success Thursday afternoon praised Martino-Lewis for her giving nature and for getting the ball rolling on what they hope will be an annual event.

“My kids loved it and appreciated the gesture,” said language arts teacher Nicole Foster.

Kerry Kubler, who had Martino-Lewis as a student at PCMS years ago, noted that she illustrated the “true meaning of this special season.”

“it was no coincidence your name begins with the same letters as Angels,” Kubler wrote in a note to Martino-Lewis.



Response

By the first of December, Angela Martino-Lewis had dozens of positive responses from those wanting to participate.

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