Students give a little to give a lot

Tuscola students raise thousands to help fellow students
By Shelby Harrell Staff Writer | Dec 07, 2013
Photo by: Shelby Harrell Allie Dinwiddie, from left, Christina Darguzas, Katherine LaBree watch as Rebecca Howell wraps a gift for the Angel Tree program. Tuscola High School students managed to raise $2,100 for the program, which will help 18 students in need.

When Tuscola High School teacher Barron Rogers got his classes involved with the Angel Tree, they took it seriously.

Now, after collecting funds for nearly 30 days, the groups of students have collected more than $2,100 in donations and spare change to give gifts to less fortunate students at Tuscola High School. The Angel Tree program provides much needed clothing items, gifts and other wished-for items to children, or in this case students, in need.

After funds are collected, Rogers and a few students go shopping at stores such as Belk, Dillards or JC Penny to purchase gifts on a “wish list” provided by students in need.

Rogers, who has encouraged his classes to participate in the Angel Tree for several years, said the funds raised would be helping 18 students this year.

“We’re still going,” he said. “We started doing this several years ago, but not at this level. We’ve never done it this big.”

Rogers said it was beneficial for his students to give to those in need.

“With all the things that are put on kids and the schools, it’s so much about test scores and getting into college,” Rogers said. “I think they’re losing compassion and empathy for other people. It’s good for these kids to learn something that’s not in the books.”

About two-thirds of the funds were collected from a spare change can that was passed around every day in each of Rogers’ classes. The can was the idea of senior Allie Dinwiddie.

“A person in need is a person in need,” Dinwiddie said when asked about her interest in the program. “During the holiday season is the time to give back and reach out to others, so that’s my motivation. I’m very proud of this class — I’m proud of the people in class who are willing to go above and beyond.”

In addition, a total of $450 was contributed from a rummage sale the classes held last month. Dinwiddie and other students went from business to business in downtown Waynesville to ask for monetary donations or items for the rummage sale.

“It was a nice thing — everyone was really welcoming and open to giving us donations,” Dinwiddie said.

The 18 students who will receive gifts are all students at Tuscola High School. Dinwiddie said it was more meaningful to be helping out fellow students.

“It feels good to give to others my own age — even though it’s anonymous," Dinwiddie said. "I may not know who I’m helping, but I may see it one day.”

Rogers said oftentimes students were labeled as “uncaring,” adding that the Angel Tree was one way for students to be generous.

“I get tired of people looking at this generation as selfish,” Rogers said. “It’s not that — it’s just that nobody shows them how or tells them. This teaches them to have empathy and to have a heart.”

About 90 percent of Angel Tree wish lists specify clothes as the students' main needs. The other items requested include Walmart gift cards, video games, CD’s, makeup and more.

“They need so many things that we take for granted,” Rogers said. “A lot of (students) didn’t know that kids had needs like this. I tell (my students), ‘If you’re fortunate enough to have what you need, you can share a little of that and it will come back to you someday.’”

Rogers' classes will be accepting donations through Friday but Rogers said he would be willing to accept donations any time. The Angel Tree gifts will be nestled under a Christmas tree in the counseling center on Dec. 9 and will be handed out to students later.

Anyone who wishes to make a donation can call the school at 456-2408 and ask for Rogers or email him at

Rogers said any leftover donations would be put into an account and save it for the Angel Tree next year.

"I'm even thinking of turning this into a year-long thing so that we can buy for even more next year," Rogers said. "It's like I told my kids, if we take care of all the angels on our tree, we will go out in the community and find more."

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