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Schools help collect 2,500 items for Toys for Tots

SUWANEE - Jonathan Waters, Tanner Pickett and other student leaders at Level Creek Elementary worked Friday morning in North Gwinnett High School's cafeteria, sorting items donated to the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation.

The students separated the toys based on the age groups and gender for which the items were most appropriate, getting the donations ready for distribution this holiday season.

Tanner, a fifth-grader, said she thinks it's great the cluster schools and area businesses participate in the annual drive organized by North Gwinnett's DECA chapter.

"I think it shows that kids care about other children," she said. "When we go downstairs on Christmas morning, we have something under the tree. Now when they go downstairs on Christmas morning, they'll have something under the tree."

About 2,500 items were collected this year in the annual toy drive and about $400 was raised to purchase additional items, said Jacqueline Huffman, North Gwinnett's marketing coordinator. Each school in the cluster visited the high school Friday morning to drop off their collections.

"It's amazing how our community comes together," she said.

Kyle Hardaway, co-president of North's chapter of the business-marketing student organization, said the number of items may have decreased slightly because of the current economic situation, but the cluster's families didn't skimp on the quality of the toys donated.

Level Creek principal Nancy Kiel said the load they delivered to the high school was a little lighter this year, but it may be because there were more locations this year to drop off toy donations.

"It's an example of the outpouring of support and mind set of our students that even in these hard economic times they're able to help the less fortunate," Kiel said.

Anne Marie Siegel, treasurer of North's DECA chapter, said the toy drive is an important community service project.

"It feels good knowing on Christmas Day other kids are opening presents they never would have had if you didn't help them out," she said.