By Reg Chapman

BLOOMINGTON, Minn. (WCCO) — Fourth graders at Nativity of St. Mary School in Bloomington are learning the true meaning of the holiday season. The kids were asked to donate toys they still love but don’t play with as often to the needy.

Their classrooms turned into Santa’s workshop as they cleaned up their toys to give to others. It’s kids making other kids happy.

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Like little elves in Santa’s workshop, these fourth graders are busy preparing their old toys for new owners. The call went out to all students, preschool through eighth grade at Nativity of Mary School, to donate their gently used toys.

“So kids went home and started raiding their siblings toy chests and we said ‘The only rules are you have to ask your parents first if you can bring it in’ and we have had more than we’ve ever had,” said fourth grade teacher Carla Zenk.

Once the toys came in, the kids checked to make sure all the parts work.

“If kids don’t want to play with them or they’re not playable for our kids, we don’t donate them,” said fourth grade teacher Glen Hoffman.

The kids then make sure the toys are cleaned up, so the next child that gets the toy will enjoy it.

“I just keep thinking we’re going to make someone else happy,” said fourth-grader Madison Dillon.

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“They’re serving and they’re having fun cleaning and playing with the toys and making sure everything is good to go,” Hoffman said.

This is the third year that fourth graders have reached out to families in need.

“We want to make Christmas not just about receiving,” Zenk said.

The kids say they get a good feeling inside from making the toys look like new.

“We mostly think about what the dolls are going to look like after we’re done, what our goal is for them, what the kids might want,” said fourth-grader Andie Schrader.

They get a better feeling knowing their sacrifice and labor will be a blessing to someone else.

“We know that we are making children happy every time we make a doll like what they want. We’re making a child happy,” Schrader said.

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The toys will be taken to the multicultural school for empowerment in St. Paul’s McDonough neighborhood. Parents there will be able to shop for free for Christmas gifts for their own kids.

Reg Chapman