A longtime friendship and a desire to help children came together recently at a local elementary school when handmade, crocheted toys were donated to help make this year’s Great Media Giveaway special. The handcrafted toys consist of robots, clowns, flamingos, alligators, dragons, bunnies and more.
Kerri Aman is the media specialist at Dover Elementary School. Every year, Kerri randomly selects two children from each class and gives them a holiday gift paired with a book. Kerri’s mom, Sandra Aman, told her longtime friend, Claudia Baldwin, about Kerri’s project. It just so happens that Baldwin, who is the Exalted Ruler of her Elks Club in Penn Yan, New York, was looking for a community charity project.
Sandra explained, “During one of our phone conversations, I was telling Claudia about Kerri and the Christmas give away.”
Baldwin has a knitting group at the Elks Club. They make teddy bears for foster children. When Sandra told Claudia about the project, Baldwin asked how many Kerri needed. The number 100 was discussed, but Baldwin went above that and created 400 stuffed animals of all kinds.
Baldwin said, “When they told me about the school, I wanted to get involved.”
Dover Elementary School is a Title I school. Many of the families who attend are low-income, and many are from migrant farmworker families.
Kerri explained the purpose of giving the students books and reading buddies.
“They have someone to sit with and read and there is no judgment.” Kerri added, “We try to build a home library by giving them books. Studies show that children whose homes have 50 books or more do better in school. We also give books to the children whose families have to leave so they have a couple of books with them.”
Baldwin, who was a music teacher for many years, said, “Giving away like this is what Elks do.” Kerri said, “This is a wonderful school with great students, teachers and staff. Everyone puts in their best efforts.”
The Great Media Giveaway takes place the week before winter break.
Kerri collects used and new books. If you would like to donate, please contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.