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Reid DeMars and Mirielle DeMars representing all the 3rd-grade students at Watertown-Mayer Elementary School. (Submitted by Colleen Kelzer)

The holidays are here, and part of the holidays is generosity. Every year, the third grades of Watertown-Mayer Elementary School exhibit that generosity by Adopting a Family for Christmas. Though COVID put a wrench in things for the school year, the kids were still able to show support and embrace the spirit of giving.

“Every year, we raise money to adopt a family in need,” said Colleen Kelzer, one of the organizers and a 3rd grade teacher. “It’s been going for longer than I remember now.”

Adopting a classmate started years ago, with the tragedy of a student’s house burning down just before the holidays. In an effort to relieve some of the stress on the family, Kelzer began asking students and their families for donations. What started as a single incident became a tradition to help those in need, especially during times of crisis.

Three families were adopted this year by the 3rd graders. A family going through divorce, one with a father recently passed, and another with a parent being treated for cancer are this year’s adopted families. The bigger question this year, though, was getting the donations. With students beginning distance learning in mid-November, it was expected to be a bigger challenge.

“We had a really good year,” said Kelzer. “The kids brought in $1200 for donations, with my class bringing in $300 by themselves.”

That $1200 turned into $2000 after a couple community donations from various organizations, including Immaculate Conception Church.

That $2000 will go to all kinds of things for the families. Gift cards for gas, grocery, and Target are just a part of the deal. They will also have games, winter wear, as well as a few arts and crafts items for the kids.

The families will be picking up their gifts this week at the school to hopefully ease some their burden.

“We were really lucky that we started collecting early this year,” said Kelzer. “I’m glad we were able to put it all together.”

For those unable to donate but wanting to help, there are other ways Watertown-Mayer is working to help families throughout the winter. Mits of Hope is all about helping get winter gear for families unable to afford it, put on the social work team.

Adopt a Family for Christmas will also be back next year, with donations being collected just after Thanksgiving Break and to about December 10. Keep an eye out for it next year if this is a specific way you want to give back.

If you’re looking for other ways, Friends For Life Foodshelf, the Raider Room, and more are always looking for help. Tis the season for giving, and what better way to give than to help someone in need.

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