News From Terre Haute, Indiana


December 20, 2013

Better to give

Toy drive trumps gift exchange

TERRE HAUTE — It wasn’t a letter to Santa that caught the attention of the students and staff at Dixie Bee Elementary this year.

It was a letter to Principal Mika Cassell from a third-grade girl that has made a difference for many children.

Brynn Ogsbury wrote a letter asking if the students could participate in a toy drive for needy children rather than do the traditional gift exchange among the students.

Intrigued by the idea, Cassell said she talked it over with the faculty and they agreed that a toy drive would be a great effort at the school of 642 students.

Cassell read the letter from Brynn over the intercom to the whole school, and by Friday, an estimated 500 to 700 toys had been donated for the project.

“We’ve never done anything like this before, so it was our own personal toy drive,” Cassell said.

Brynn and her brother, fifth-grader Briley Ogsbury, said they were inspired to do the toy drive because of past visits they had made to a local charity to drop off clothes.

“We went to the Lighthouse Mission and saw all the toys and thought we could do something like this, too,” Brynn said.

Principal Cassell said she is proud of how everyone in the school supported the project in some way.

“I think everybody participate in this toy drive,” she said. “At least, everyone brought something in.”

Students at Dixie Bee take an annual trip to the Lighthouse Mission, and Cassell said the trip obviously “put a servant’s heart” into the Ogsbury children.

On Friday, a truck from Catholic Charities of Terre Haute arrived to pick up the items for distribution to needy children in the community.

The toy distribution is planned for 6 to 8 p.m. Monday at Ryves Hall.

As for their own personal requests from Santa, the children of Brian and Shelly Ogsbury said their have a couple of things on Santa’s list.

Briley wants a GoPro camera that he can use as he rides around on his bicycle. Brynn said she wants an iPad mini. But they’ll be happy with whatever Santa brings, and they hope others have a gift-filled Christmas, too.

Reporter Lisa Trigg can be reached at 812-231-4254 or Follow her on Twitter @TribStarLisa.


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