LAKEMORE We all know Santa has a very kind and giving soul. Like the United States Postal Service, he never fails to deliver gifts whether it is through the bitter cold, extreme heat, snow, ice, rain, hail ... you get the point.

Even at his age, 1,749 years old, he never misses his big night of traveling around the world to deliver brightly wrapped packages and fill stockings with items that fulfill the wishes of little girls and boys and some of us older kids too.

Students and staff members of the Springfield Local School District have done Santa in reverse for many years by giving to others.

Students are taught from their youngest school years the “7 Healthy Habits” and “Leader in Me” programs which help to develop a kind, cooperate personality in the young students.

Beyond the lessons they learn through the programs, they see their parents and school staff members model the qualities of giving and kindness to others.

The children of the schools have that giving spirit from kindergarten through high school. During this holiday season, they participated in a variety of giving projects.

At Young Elementary School, it begins early with Socktober. For the month of October, students and staff bring in socks to donate to the homeless. This year, they collected 1,042 pairs of socks. Socks are something homeless shelters desperately need.

Recently, all Springfield Schools participated in a district wide food drive to help fill the need in the community. Canned goods and non-perishable food items were collected at each school and members of the National Honor Society from the high school traveled from school to school to collect the items and took them to the Springfield Cares organization where they helped to sort and box the items.

More than 7,000 food items were given by Springfield students and staff members and they helped feed Christmas dinners to those in need in the Springfield and Lakemore communities.

The schools are Young and Spring Hill Elementary Schools, Schrop Intermediate and the Springfield Junior/Senior High School.

Clothing items were also collected by some of the schools. Young Elementary School, through its parent teacher organization, held a clothing and toy drive for Springfield Cares to include in its Christmas giving program.

At Schrop Intermediate School, students did a variety of collections to help in a variety of ways. Students took time during their lunch to make stockings and gifts. Some were going to parents, some to other children or those who might need one to hang by the fireplace. The students were so happy to speak about their gifts – Isola Whitacre and Jessie Bakeer made pillows, Sunni Nangle made a cup koozie and loves to make scrunchies, Ty Smith made stockings and Daysjariah Williams had been sewing a stocking to surprise someone special.

Also at Schrop, the students in Holly Reed’s class brought in new toys and games for the Toys for Tots program. The sixth graders collected more than 50 items for donation. The students on the teaching team of Droppleman, Mick and Tolson collected pajamas for the Scholastic News pajama drive for children. Students on the team of Zehner, Denczak and Johnston collected hats, gloves and scarves for Springfield Cares.

Teacher Kristine DiLauro's class made blankets and donated them to Harvest Home (homeless shelter). The team of students for teachers Burns, Brasiel, Yacobucci, Ferguson and Chumita collected tie dye supplies for summer camp at Camp Quality, a camp for students with cancer. The students on the team of Justice, Villers and Bogunovich collected $5 gift cards to give to police and firefighters in Springfield to use for a snack/drink while they are protecting our community. The students on the team of Wagner, Rossiter and Wander collected deodorant, soap, shampoo, combs and brushes for Springfield Cares and the students on the team of Williams, Freeze and Francis shopped for gifts for Springfield Cares.

Giving and sharing is a big part of who the Springfield Local Schools and Springfield and Lakemore communities are. That caring and giving spirit is seen in many ways in the community from Shop With A Cop to Share A Christmas and other programs that the kind and selfless people of Springfield, Lakemore and the schools demonstrate throughout their daily lives.