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For over a decade, an Owen County educator has been teaching her students a Christmas lesson they’ll never forget.
It started in 2001 when Mary Inman, a third-grade teacher at Owen County Upper-Elementary School, began her career.
The students in Inman’s first class are now juniors in college, but they haven’t forgotten raising money to buy presents for two needy Owen County children.
Each year around Nov. 1, Inman announces to her class that they will begin a new project to help make Christmas morning a little brighter for two local children.
This year, a goal of $450 was set, and students raised money by doing chores around the house.
“They earn their money by raking leaves or folding clothes, whatever they can do,” Inman said. “We have a jar in the classroom that they put the money in.”
Inman said family resource provides the classroom with two children and she requests that the children be part of a family that works hard, but still struggles to make ends meet.
“I always ask for kids that aren’t my students’ age,” Inman said. “I don’t want anyone to feel uncomfortable. This year we had a 6 year old and a 12 year old.”
Sometimes the class struggles to meet its goal, but Inman said there’s always a donation from an outside party that steps up to help out.
When all of the money is raised, the class takes a trip to the Dry Ridge Walmart to shop for the two children.
The class is split up in to teams for the shopping trip and is given a list of items and a budget. The team captain calculates the total purchases, including tax and must report back at a given time.
“We shop for bargains,” Inman said. “We look for what’s on sale and stay within our budget. When we finish shopping we go to the McDonalds in Dry Ridge. That’s their treat for working hard. We eat together and come back to school.”
The next day Inman and a parent volunteer teach the students how to wrap gifts.
“The parent volunteer and I had the clothes all boxed up,” Inman said. “We teach them how to wrap the gifts and tuck the paper in. It’s not perfect, but they love it. We listen to Christmas music and they cut the paper and tape them all up.”
Although some students’ families are on the receiving end of help around Christmastime, Inman said they still take part in the activities and learn the importance of giving.
“It’s more than just sitting behind a desk,” Inman said. “It’s math and economics and real world too. It’s making connections to the less fortunate and learning smart shopping.”
Inman said she would like to thank the parents, students, donors and school staff for making the project a success year after year.