POINT PLEASANT — Teenagers across Mason County are coming together to help brighten Christmas for other teens.
The Mason County Career Center’s National Technical Honor Society (NTHS) initiated the “teen drive” to support the older kids in the Toys for Kids program. It was not long before Wahama Junior/Senior High School (WJSHS) and Hannan Junior/Senior High School (HJSHS) joined.
“We had a National Technical Honor Society meeting and were talking about different fundraisers or just community service events that they could do,” said Brandy Barkey-Sweeney, Toys for Kids coordinator and advisor with NTHS. “They started, kind of rattling off and where I help with the National Technical Honor Society and Toys for Kids, I kind of brought it up.”
Sweeney said she suggested doing a drive at school and the students “ran with it.”
“They’re like, ‘We could do a drive and we can ask everybody to bring items that you know we like,’” Sweeney said.
Sweeney said the age group of 13 years old to 16 years old is the largest group for Toys for Kids this year.
“And that’s the one that people don’t think about — the teenagers,” Sweeney said. “They always think about the little ones because they are fun to buy for, I totally get that. Teenagers are harder, they are harder. I feel like they’re just kind of like the forgotten age group.”
The NTHS is made up of six students. The groups said they are still brainstorming gift ideas and bringing in things that they enjoy receiving.
“A few things that I did that I thought would be useful, were like a hairbrush, I donated sweatshirts, some scrunchies, fluffy socks. I know I like getting those things for Christmas,” said Brooke Warner, NTHS student.
Warner said that while she had ideas for the girls, the teen boys are harder to shop for, but they hope to be able to get things the boys would enjoy and encourages others to do the same.
“The Career Center is donating and the [Point Pleasant Junior/Senior] high school is donating,” Warner said. “I’ve told a bunch of my friends about it. We’ve made a Facebook post. Basically, Anybody in the community can really donate if they’d like to.”
Warner said items for the “teen drive” can be brought to the Mason County Career Center office, either office at Point Pleasant Junior/Senior High School, the WJSHS office, the HJSHS office or to Sweeney.
“We’re kind of asking students not only here at the Career Center, but they’ve expanded it to all the high schools,” Sweeney said.
Sweeney said what started as a small group project has turned into a big event with people all over the county participating.
“[If] each teenager would just bring something that maybe they might like for Christmas, then we would definitely be able to provide a wonderful Christmas to the less fortunate that we are serving this year,” Sweeney said.
Sweeney said some items on the teenage age group wish lists are Nintendo DS, PlayStation, video games, board games, etc.
Sweeney said she recently made a Facebook post about the Christmas wishes organizations like Toys for Kids receives.
“A lot of times people will look at a list of, say a child that might be on a list like this because their parents are down on their luck this particular year, doesn’t mean every year,” Sweeney said. “But I think teenagers want the same thing that their peers want, no matter what their economic status is.”
Sweeney said she could see why the teenagers would ask for these gifts and while they cannot buy something like that for every single kid, they want to be able to give them more than just a toothbrush.
“Which is why I think it was a great idea for them to say, ‘hey, you know if we brought in something we want for Christmas then we could help give some of our peers a really great Christmas,’” Sweeney said. “[It] shows you an example of how something small, you can make an impact no matter how many people [are] in your group, you can still make a huge impact on others.”
The “teen drive” is collecting donations until Monday, December 20. As mentioned above, donation drop offs can be done at the Mason County Career Center office, any of the county’s high school offices or with Brandy Sweeney.
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Brittany Hively is a staff writer for Ohio Valley Publishing. Follow her on Twitter @britthively; reach her at (740) 446-2342 ext 2555.