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Learning to give: Hancock first-graders fill Giving Jar

HANCOCK – During the Christmas season, first-graders at Gordon G. Barkell Elementary School learn the virtue of giving and thinking of others through a program called the Giving Jar.

Barkell first-grade teacher Gladys Dupuis said the school’s Giving Jar was started about 15 years ago by former teacher Vicky Mattila.

For the project, students do chores at home for which their parents give them change, which they then bring to class and put in the jar, Dupuis said.

Students collected change for the first three weeks in December, and when it was over, they had collected $136.75, which was donated to the Salvation Army for their Cheer Club program to collect toys and food for low-income families.

Besides her class, Dupuis said the classes of teachers Lynne Koivisto and Ashley Dunstan also took part. There are 61 students in the three classes.

Dupuis said the Giving Jar is an exercise in selflessness.

“The focus is on doing something to help someone else,” she said.

During the project, Dupuis said each morning students tell the class what they did the previous day to get the change, which they then drop in the jar. The amount the students bring in each day isn’t counted because the point is about the giving.

Principal Dan Vaara said students throughout the school do various fundraising and other collection efforts during the year, including a canned food drive.

Vaara said he was very impressed with the effort of the first-grade students.

“It’s amazing, and it’s awesome,” he said. “It’s a true testament to (the) great people we have up here.”