Christmas marks a time of celebration and gives people a chance to reflect on everything and anything that they have. Most people never realize how lucky they are when they get to open new toys or gadgets. For the 13 million American children that are in poverty, Christmas morning is simply another morning. This past Christmas, English teacher Natalie Barnard chose to make a difference. In the midst of giving and grading high school finals, Barnard’s eye was caught by a story on the news.
“I was so immersed in finals and finishing up the semester that I hadn’t heard the news story about how short they were on toys,” Barnard said. “When I saw the story, I knew it was not something that should be allowed to happen; those kids all needed something for underneath the tree.”
With the help of her sons (Gabe and Griffin) and various Mountain Vista students, Barnard began collecting toys. During various sporting events in December, Barnard tweeted that she was going to give toys to children in need and that at all sports games, they could donate toys in her large collection bin.
“What ended up being better than the excitement of getting all these toys left on my doorstep was going down and helping sort them that Saturday,” Barnard said. “It was cool to see the toys that people donated. There were going to be some lucky kids smiling on Christmas!”
After collecting for nearly a month, Barnard accomplished her ultimate goal. When she finished donating, Barnard took time to reflect on her actions with her family. “I have never for a minute forgotten how lucky we are,” Barnard said. “We have made it a point in our family to understand that we are lucky and that there are plenty of people who aren’t as fortunate as we are.”