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Students make 'nice' list

Representing the Detroit Lakes Middle School are, front from left, Chase Jendrysik, Devyn Ullyot, Breanna Price, Danni Bishop; middle row from left, Colton Bunnell, Adam Simon, Matteya Borah, Allison Buck; back from left, Collin Schmidt, Noah Johnson, Sydney Schauman, Zachary Peterson, Sadie Schmit and Kelsie Heyer. Submitted Photo

The sixth graders at Detroit Lakes Middle School have made Santa's "nice" list this year.

Generous, thoughtful, genuine, selfless....they made those lists, too.

A month ago, the sixth graders were given a task: choose a charity, write a research-based persuasive essay and present it to their classmates. After hours of hard work, they did so much more.

Students earned money to donate to their class jars. Some did extra chores around the house, some shoveled driveways for neighbors, some donated their personal birthday money. Others donated money they had saved for something special, sold friendship bracelets or ransacked Dad's truck in search of loose change.

It started with a few coins as penny banks started to empty. Dollar bills began to trickle in. Soon the 11 and 12 year olds were engulfed with the project, and teachers couldn't keep up with the tally. At final count, the 202 sixth graders contributed over $1,300, which will be dispersed to the following charities: The Humane Society, Ronald McDonald House, National Park Trust and St. Jude Children's Hospital.

"I like the idea of helping others because while I was doing my research, I found out how lucky we are and how many people need help," Ashley McDermond said.

"My family is not needy, but other people are. People need to be heard and helped, and we all should step up. We are a world together. We should help and protect each other," Maren Goldstein added.

Many students connected on a personal level yet were able to think beyond themselves.

"There are people who need food and have to drink dirty water everyday," Collin Modrow said.

"I wanted to bring smiles to all of the kids in need. All children need to live a full life," Cole Metelak added.

"I feel good knowing that there's a chance for me to help people who are having a hard time," Alexis Stearns said.

Yes, tonight Santa is sitting at the North Pole with a gratified grin. His elves have done a lot of work this year; many hearts will be happy.

"This project has shown us we can do a lot for other people," Noah Johnson said.