ST. MARYS — Local students are doing their part to help others this holiday season through an annual community project.
DECA — or Distributive Education Clubs of America — students at Memorial High School are currently holding their Goodfellows drive, where the students put out decorated cans in local businesses to collect money to purchase toys for those in need.
“DECA was doing this project before I came to St. Marys, and we’ve continued it every year since,” adviser Heidi Lisi said. “We do this as one of our community service projects every year.”
DECA, which is made up of junior and senior high school students, starts the project by picking businesses.
“Each junior or senior selects a business, and they talk to them about putting a can in their business,” Lisi said. “It’s their responsibility to check the can a couple times a week and to turn in the money on a regular basis.”
This year, there are 43 DECA members.
“So we have donation cans all over the place,” Lisi said.
She noted the donation cans had to be out to each business before Thanksgiving, and they will be collected by Dec. 16.
“A lot of students put them out at the businesses where they work, where their parents work or ones that are close to their house, somewhere convenient so they can check on it,” Lisi said.
The local DECA chapter will also donate some of its funds toward the project.
“Once all of our donations are collected, we also donate some money from our chapter funds,” Lisi said.
From there, the students will divide into groups, and each group is given an age range and a gender of a child.
“We usually go to Kmart and purchase as many toys as possible,” Lisi said. “Each group has a budget based on the amount of money we collected and so each group can find as many toys as possible for their age range.”
The students will also transport the toys they purchased to give to the Goodfellows.
“After we go on our shopping trip, we take them to the armory,” Lisi said. “We have a lot of students who also volunteer to help wrap, sort or deliver the gifts.”
For the last few years, Lisi noted, the students have been able to purchase $1,000 worth of toys for children.
“We hope to do at least that or more this year,” she said.
As of Tuesday morning, Lisi noted the group has raised $340, with money still left to come in.
Donation cans can be found around town at the following businesses: The Hair Line, Shell on 703, Subway on 703, The Shoe Department, Minster Bank, Julie’s Hair, People’s Bank, Ace Hardware, Lee’s Famous Recipe, Chase Bank, The Buzz, Kate’s Kitchen, Style Salon, Lost in the 50s Diner, Pizza Hut, Auglaize Erie Machine, First Financial Bank, Subway at the Shell station off 29, Cools Locker Room Pizza and Subs, Bronze Body Tanning, C&C Loft and Lounge, Rustic Haven, Maurice’s, Schwieterman Pharmacy, J.C. Penney, Marathon/Villa Nova Pizza, JB Pastries, Guarnieri’s Pizzeria, Dairy Queen, Spring Street Coffee House, West Bank Inn, Kroger, St. Marys Eagles, The Outdoorsman, TSC Telephone Company, Pantry Pride, Generations Cafe, Varsity Lanes, La Piazza, Albert’s Sporting Goods, Marathon on South Street and at the DECA Depot at the high school.