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Caribou middle schoolers give back to community

CARIBOU, Maine — Caribou middle schoolers joined forces with the Caribou Fire Department on Dec. 13 and purchased 52 toys for their toy project as well as 68 food items to help community members in need. 

Holly Rhinebolt, who teaches math and science to seventh and eighth graders, said she mentioned the idea shortly after Thanksgiving and that her students were immediately interested.

They began bringing in toys, food, and money, and Rhinebolt kept a running total outside the classroom, which students excitedly monitored. She then placed sign up sheets in the hall for students interested in getting on a bus to go shopping at Dollar General, Family Dollar, and Save-A-Lot. After shopping, the bus took students to Pines Food Cupboard, Catholic Charities, and the Bread of Life Kitchen to make deliveries. All toys went to the Caribou Fire and Ambulance Department to distribute.

While Caribou Middle School students previously have contributed to food drives, Rhinebolt said this is the first time they’ve also bought toys for the fire department, and that Dec. 13 was the first time she had taken students on a trip to stores and food pantries.

Caribou Middle School eighth graders visit Save-A-Lot on Dec. 13 to purchase food for those in need. Students pictured are, from left, Ephraim Willey, Evan Rossignol, and Javier Labbe. (Courtesy of Holy Rhinebolt)

“I think it’s important for everyone to be involved with random acts of kindness and giving back to others,” she said, “regardless of someone’s age or financial situation. I wanted to get my eighth graders involved in some way. There is a great need, and we wanted to help fill this need.”

Rhinebolt added that the total number of items purchased on Dec. 13 do not take into account any of the donations made by students beforehand. Looking back, she said the project was a success and that she absolutely hopes to make this a CMS tradition.

“I was so happy to see my students get excited about this project,” she said.

Her students felt the same way.

“I think it is cool that we get to do this for the community because it helps us give back to others and will help people who might not be able to afford the toys,” said Jude Shea.

“It makes me feel good because we are able to give back to people,” Kennedy LeVasseur said.

“Personally,” said Selena Savage, “I really like this project because we are able to do something we wouldn’t normally be doing in school, while giving back to others. I think it is definitely a good way for us kids to do something for our community.”

Out of roughly ninety eighth grade students, Rhinebolt said eighty of them “were out in the community shopping and delivering toys and food. She said the bus garage was particularly helpful in offering to transport the students to several locations.

Members of the eighth grade boys basketball team also donated $250 to the project by selling concessions, and various students and staff members from grades four to eight also helped bring in toys, food, or money to purchase items with, according to Rhinebolt.

“It was great to see the eighth graders interacting with the public,” she said. “The smile on their faces said it all. I hope they will remember this project and continue to make a difference in their community.”

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