ALTON – Students with big hearts at Gilson Brown Elementary School have collaboratively stocked the shelves of a toiletry pantry in the school in an effort to help local families struggling to have basic necessities.

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The student council hosted a competition among classrooms to see who could bring in the most items for the drive. 

“They (The Student Council) shared with the students that there are people in our very own community who struggle to have basic necessities such as toiletries,” said JoAnne Curvey, Principal of Gilson Brown Elementary. “They explained that all of the items would go to our community families in need.”

The students did not hesitate to hit the ground running and immediately started bringing in toilet paper, paper towels, baby wipes and more. The classroom with the highest amount of items brought in won a Pizza Party. Mrs. Jones and Mrs. Jackson’s generous 3rd grade class won the contest.

“I believe we surpassed any goal we had set,” said Curvey.  “Our shelves are stocked and we are already helping families, so I believe this was a huge success. I'm so proud of the students for participating. Some students said they forgot and are already waiting a chance to bring in items.  Some have brought in items even though the event has come to an end. I think that is wonderful and speaks to the character of the students we have at Gilson Brown.”

Curvey and the staff at Gilson Brown are proud of their students and want to do whatever it is they can to allow them to give back to the community.

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“Our students are generous and always willing to lend a hand,” said Curvey. “I'm humbled daily by their actions with peers and adults in the building.  I don't remember if I was as aware of other's needs when I was their age.”

The staff at Gilson Brown used this drive as a learning point for the students, teaching them to be grateful and appreciative.

“One thing I believe they learned is that there is always someone who is worse off than themselves,” said Curvey. “We talked about that, there is always someone who needs something and that with a little effort on our part, we can provide that ‘something’ to them.” 

Curvey said she makes sure to inform the students when someone requests items. This way, they know their efforts are appreciated.

One person that received assistance by the Helping Hands Drive said, with tears in her eyes, “I am overwhelmed that you are able to give us these items. We have nothing right now.  At least we will have our own health supplies if nothing else.”  

Although this particular drive is over and the shelves are fully stocked and ready to be dispersed, the school plans to host another drive once the supplies begin to diminish.

"The staff goes way above and beyond what you would expect of a person when it comes to their students," said Curvey. "Therefore, I'm not surprised that our drive was so successful. The staff simply shared the importance of helping others which allowed the students see the importance of helping through their modeling."

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