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Students giving back for Thanksgiving

By Jim Conrad, jconrad@wcyb.com
Published On: Dec 24 2013 04:04:53 PM CST
Updated On: Nov 20 2013 07:00:00 PM CST

A simple idea of what to do with all that leftover Halloween candy has grown into a community service project for two local schools.

BRISTOL, Va. -

Even though we're a week away from Thanksgiving, you probably still have Halloween candy around your house. So what do you do with all that candy?

A local fourth grader had an idea -- give it away to the less fortunate. That fourth grader is now a freshman at Tennessee High, but his idea carries on.

Libraries and cafeterias look more like assembly lines as students from Saint Anne's and Sullins Academy prepare special gifts for those who will be receiving a Thanksgiving meal at the Salvation Army.

It all began with leftover Halloween candy and what to do with it. Six years ago Josh Mai had the idea of bagging it up and giving it away at the Thanksgiving dinner.

Mai says he has not outgrown it. "I have not. I feel like its not really an age kind of experience, but more like anybody can do it," Josh said while bagging candy.

And they are. Sullins Academy joined in with other things to give away. "Today we're stuffing little bags for people who go to the Salvation Army on Thanksgiving. They have deodorant, tissues, personal hygiene items," eighth grader Libby Crutchfield said.

But you'll find that schools all across the region are making community service a part of the curriculum, so that giving back is an automatic when there's a need. "This month of November we're helping with collecting a ton of food which we're going to help the local food pantries with," Saint Anne's sixth grader Christopher Long said.

"Every year the middle school participates in a soup kitchen. It takes place at the old Sullins campus. We help put soups in sealed cups and put them in boxes and ship them to people who need food," Evan Ladd, an eighth grader, added.

Both schools are banding together for a common cause of community service. Even though Josh has moved on to high school, he's still dedicated to his simple project. "I think the impact carries on their whole life into adulthood to give back or just anything. In his case he knows the benefits that will stick with him a life time," his mother Denise told us.

Giving to help those in need maybe one of their most important learning experiences.