Boardman pupils shine light on tsunami victims

Not all the aid received will be as warm and fuzzy as the donations from Robinwood Lane School.
BOARDMAN -- Relief in the form of money and medical supplies is pouring in from all over the world for victims of the deadly tsunami in Southeast Asia.
Pupils at one Boardman school wanted to help too, and their warm and fuzzy contribution will start its journey halfway across the globe today.
When her pupils at Robinwood Lane Elementary returned from holiday break last month, second-grade teacher Susan McConnell talked to them about the tsunami. After she told them about the thousands of children who were orphaned as a result of the disaster, she asked them to think about what they could do to help.
"I asked what they might want if they were in that position, and they said, 'I'd want something to hug.'"
With that, McConnell's class began a schoolwide project they dubbed "Ray of Light." They asked pupils to bring in a new stuffed toy to be sent to the American Red Cross for tsunami relief. A letter went home to parents explaining the project and asking for a toy donation or for money to help defray the cost of shipping.
McConnell and Robinwood Lane's principal, Jane Howells, were surprised at the response.
"It's just been wonderful," Howells said.
Money also collected
The school collected $200 in cash, and that money will go to the tsunami relief as well. McConnell's husband, Mark, learned earlier this week that he had to drive to Washington today, and he will deliver the stuffed toys to the office there, saving a shipping charge."
It's just amazing how it all worked out," Howells said.
Nearly 300 stuffed toys came in -- a fuzzy menagerie including a large red-and-black ladybug, a black cow with white spots and pale pink ears, a large white bunny with a pink nose and a bear sporting a Syracuse University sweater.
Ariana Pasqual, 7, donated a soft brown dog because she loves her own dog so much that she thought a dog might make a child feel better. Her classmate, Phillipp Panno, 8, who described himself as a "Game Boy collector freak," said he was willing to give up his Game Boy but decided to settle on a stuffed dog and a cat, the dog from him and the cat from his little sister.
Bags of Beanie Babies
Brandon Rigelsky, 7, told his mom that he wanted to send his Scooby-Doo collection to the young tsunami victims, but his mother suggested that a better donation might be the bags of Beanie Babies in the attic. Brandon agreed, and his mother dropped off two large plastic garbage bags of the tiny soft toys at school.
As McConnell boxed the toys for shipping, Brandon fished through the bag and pulled out his favorite Beanie Baby, a soft blue dolphin.
"I like this one the best," he said. "Now the kids will have something to hold on to."

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