Stuff that bus!

Published 10:19 pm Saturday, December 10, 2011

Nansemond-Suffolk Academy students brought toys to school on Friday and stuffed a bus for Toys for Tots. They also brought pet supplies for the Suffolk Humane Society.

NSA students finish big toy drive

It’s not very often that the seniors hang out with the second-graders at Nansemond-Suffolk Academy, but Friday was a special occasion.

The entire school’s student body and staff took time out of their day for the conclusion of the school’s Stuffing the Community holiday donation drive, which has been going on since Thanksgiving.

Students, teachers, administrators and other employees stuffed a school bus full of donations to go to Toys for Tots and filled mascot Bernie’s doghouse with items for the Suffolk Humane Society.

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“We give back as part of our mission,” communications coordinator Ashley Greene said. “It’s something we do on a daily basis, but during the holidays, we all know how important it is to give back.”

During the Thanksgiving holiday, NSA also collected more than 4,000 canned goods to donate to the Salvation Army as part of its holiday donations.

Greene said this is the first time the school has done a collective holiday community service project, but the lower, middle and upper schools usually do their own events.

This year, they wanted to try something different.

The school has been accepting toy and pet item donations from students and staff for the past couple of weeks.

Greene said NSA decided to collect for Suffolk Humane in memory of Hunter Richardson, a 2004 graduate of NSA, who died after he was hit by a drunk driver during Thanksgiving in 2009. Hunter was an avid animal lover.

“We want to honor his memory and do it for NSA in his name,” she said.

Greene said the students were thrilled to be able to participate in the donation drives.

“It’s Christmas, and they are excited about the holiday, but even more, they are excited about making a happy holiday for someone else,” she said.

For the Stuff the Bus event, students were decked out in holiday attire, and as they waited to drop their donations off, the group was a sea of red and green.

Members of the Student Council took toys from each and every student in the school and put them on the bus or in the doghouse, while Bernie and special guest Big Blue, the lion mascot of Old Dominion University, oversaw the donations.

Connor Hutchinson, a second grader at NSA, said he thinks his school held the drive “to help people who don’t have that many things and want to have a better life.”

“It’s how we know the school cares for other people,” he said.

After all the toys had been piled into the seats and onto the floor of the bus, the vehicle was driven to the Salvation Army’s Toys for Tots sorting site.

Linda Vetter, a Suffolk Humane volunteer, picked up the dog and cat items, which were overflowing from Bernie’s house.

“A lot of dogs and cats are going to have a Merry Christmas because of this,” she said.

Shannon McDonald, a junior who helped load the bus, said she was impressed by how much they collected.

“It’s important for the kids to see we are all supporting this,” she said. “Christmas isn’t just about themselves; it’s about everyone.”