NSA supports Toys for Tots, Humane campaigns

Published 10:20 pm Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Students at Nansemond-Suffolk Academy show off pet supplies collected to benefit the Suffolk Humane Society. The school collected more than 200 pounds of dog food, several containers of cat litter, animal toys and more.

Nansemond-Suffolk Academy has supported needy children and canines this holiday season by contributing to the Toys for Tots campaign and the Suffolk Humane Society.

Students, faculty, staff and administration all contributed to what the academy calls its “Stuffing for the Community” holiday drive, culminating Wednesday in a bus packed with toys and a doghouse full of pet products.

According to the official tally, NSA donated more than 1,000 toys and more than 200 pounds of dog food, numerous cans of cat food, 12 boxes of dog bones, several containers of cat litter and animal toys, plus pet bedding.

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“The schools in Suffolk just do an absolutely fantastic job for Toys for Tots,” said John Woleben, the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve program’s Suffolk coordinator. “We can’t thank them enough; they just do a great job every year.”

Nansemond-Suffolk Academy students wait in line Wednesday with toys to “stuff the bus” with donated items for Toys for Tots. The school collected more than 1,000 toys, officials said.

The donations are in memory of Hunter Richardson, a 2004 NSA graduate who died at the hands of a drunk driver on the 2009 Thanksgiving weekend, academy spokeswoman Ashley Greene said. The academy also has supported Angel Tree and community coat drives.

In 2011, upper school Dean of Students Kim Aston, a 1988 graduate, middle school counselor Tracy Grady and assistant head of lower school Jean Mauck collaborated to initiate the campus-wide holiday drive, according to a news release.

Mackenzie Westfall, a 2010 graduate, originally encouraged the school to take on the “stuff the bus” concept, which was born with input from the Student Council.

NSA mascot “Bernie” the St. Bernard was on hand Wednesday to witness the bus and doghouse stuffing, taking particular interest that the bags of kibbles and bones were properly handled.

Suffolk Humane has received a lot of support from a foundation established in Richardson’s memory, allowing it to expand, society member Ginger Owens said.

“There are even more people involved, so it’s made it really great for the Suffolk Humane Society,” she said. “We are really appreciative of the family for doing this in his name.”

Owens attended the stuffing with “Ella,” her 9-year-old Bernese mountain dog, who regularly visits NSA as part of a program to help children learn to read.

“This obviously is a tough economy right now, so this is huge to have NSA backing Suffolk Humane,” she said.

The pet product donations will go to Suffolk Humane’s Driver office, Suffolk Animal Care, and also to cats destined for adoption at Chesapeake Square PetSmart, Owens said.

During the Thanksgiving holiday, NSA collected canned goods for the Salvation Army, and coats are being collected through January 2013 for a Suffolk Christian Church drive.