Apr. 8—DANVILLE — Geisinger Medical Center accepted "thank you" gifts of more than 3,300 goodies from students at Liberty Valley Intermediate School on Wednesday. The gifts were to show appreciation of front-line workers and support staff's efforts during the pandemic.
Candies, granola bars, peanuts, Slim Jims, applesauce, juice boxes and sparkling water were just some of the items students brought in as donations.
It was all part of a Danville Area School District-wide Geisinger Appreciation program, where each school was assigned a month to collect as many goodies as they could to give to workers at Geisinger. Liberty Valley had March. Middle school students are collecting this month and the high school will collect in May.
The final count of items collected at Liberty Valley was 3,366.
"This is such an awesome gesture of kindness and is very much appreciated by the staff," said Justin Maxfield, administrative fellow at Geisinger Medical Center, who coordinated the delivery and pickup of the donation. "The organization of the district to put these donations together has been nothing short of impressive and is a wonderful tribute to our front-line workers."
Pizza party incentive
Meanwhile, the homerooms who brought in the most also won the right to have a pizza party luncheon, said school Principal Lee Gump.
"So it was very competitive," added program coordinator Ruth Hosterman, who is the school's nurse. "When the kids began collecting, the incentive was a pizza party for the class that collected the most per grade."
The kids had a ball in the program, Hosterman said. "Once it involved a pizza party as prize it became a competition, and that increased the excitement level."
By adding the element of competition among homerooms, Gump explained, "we definitely got more interest in this project. It was evident by the amount of donations that poured in after offering a pizza luncheon to the winning homeroom at each grade level. I am also excited to spend time with the winning homerooms as they have their luncheons."
The winners were Sue Klein's third-grade class, McKenzie Sweet's fourth-grade class, and Amy Adam's fifth-grade class.
Hosterman first found out about the program from Gump.
"District Superintendent Ricki Boyle and the administrative team discussed ways we could thank our front-line workers in our community," Gump said.
After some discussion, he continued, they decided to follow the lead of a few teachers at the primary school, where the idea started, "and rally our school community for this project. "
Gump then asked Hosterman if she was interested in spearheading the program at Liberty Valley.
The first thing Hosterman did was to get in touch with June Heeter at the Primary School and ask her what she did as well as how she ran the program at that school.
Origins of idea
The idea was hatched by first-grade teacher Heeter and school nurse Deann Kinsey at the Danville Primary School.
In concept, it seemed to perfectly capture the gratitude students have been feeling toward health care workers throughout this past year.
"I followed up on what she (Heeter) did," Hosterman said. "We ordered and decorated baskets, where the goodies would be kept. It turned into a fun group project in that regard."
Letters were sent out to parents, explaining the project. Parents of cyber-students were included.
"We have hundreds of cards that were for the first-responders," she added. The cards said, "Thank you for all you have done for us and the community."
Looking over the cards, Hosterman said, "there were personal notes, such as 'you took care of my grandmother' or 'my parents work there.' You can just see the care that the students have for the people at Geisinger."
The delivery of the goodies to Geisinger required them to use a couple of vehicles.
"Our students and our families have been so generous over the years by giving and donating money, food items, clothing, and so much more," Gump said. "This is just one more example of the kindess and generosity that our students, parents, and staff display in their community."
Class Acts is a weekly feature highlighting students, teachers, programs and projects at Valley school districts. Email suggestions for future stories to email@example.com.