When the Story County Attorney’s Office, and other county workers who give money and time to great causes, Team Story, set out to collect items to help foster children in the county, a group of Nevada Middle School students answered the call.


Last Thursday afternoon, this group of about 20 students, who have been meeting with Nevada Middle School Library Director Jessie McGaffin during the school’s “Cub Pride” time (for enrichment activities), presented a number of items they had collected with the offerings of fellow students and staff members that will help Story County children who are in foster care. There to collect the items from them were two members of the Story County Attorney’s Office and one Story County Supervisor.


Story County Attorney Jessica Reynolds, accompanied by First Assistant Story County Attorney Tim Meals and Supervisor Marty Chitty, put her hands to her face in amazement when she saw the table full of the types of items that her office and Team Story were wanting to collect in a drive that started Oct. 22.


Items like crayons, wipes for babies, personal hygiene items, toothbrushes and toothpaste, shampoo, craft and activity books, toys, deodorant, hair care products/hair ties, notebooks, sketchbooks and journals, and colored pencils were sitting on a table, ready to be packed in boxes.


Reynolds was almost speechless but took a moment to share her thoughts with the kids.


“I am overwhelmed by the amount of donations you have collected for foster children in Story County,” she said. In 2017, Story County had 65 children in foster care.


“You have reaffirmed what I already know to be true, which is it doesn’t matter how old you are, or what size you are, all that matters is how big your heart is and that you use it to help others, which is exactly what you have all done here today,” Reynolds said.


McGaffin said this group of students meets during Cub Pride time, which happens at the end of every day, Tuesday through Friday, for 30 minutes. The students focus on service learning.


“I think it’s important for kids, especially at this age, to learn how to do things for other people. Giving their time and efforts in service to others helps them to see that not everyone has the same opportunities in life as they do. It can also create a love of lifelong service in them,” McGaffin said.


Some past activities of this group include affirmations to teachers, cleaning the hallways and lockers, decorating the teachers’ lounge and cleaning the outdoor school grounds.


McGaffin saw the Story County Attorney’s Office post on Facebook about collecting items for foster children. “I knew it would be a great fit for these kids,” she said.


She told the kids about the idea a week earlier and “they immediately went into action, making flyers for the hallway walls and emailing announcements to be read by the office in the afternoon and sending an email to all students in the building.”


Additionally, McGaffin said some of the kids sat out by the front doors of the school in the mornings before classes started and after school to collect donations. Even one day before presenting items to the County officials, the students collected two more full boxes of supplies that weren’t set out at the presentation but will be delivered to the County Attorney’s office soon.


The results of this one-week effort were enough to amaze Reynolds and those who accompanied her to the presentation.


“Thank you,” Reynolds told the students, “for helping make this world a better place by helping foster kids in Story County.”


The students thanked Reynolds for taking time out of her day to come and collect their items, by having one student, Taylyn Angus, hand Reynolds a thank-you note.


McGaffin said if there are any businesses or organizations in the community that would like help from this group of students on things like stuffing envelopes, packaging items, decorations for nursing homes and other such tasks, she is always looking for small ways that these students can make a difference.


As for the Story County Attorney’s Office and Team Story, they have just started this drive. The items (and they are also collecting funds to help buy items) will be packed into duffle bags to meet the needs of children. The duffle bags are significant because many times these children go to a home with a garbage bag to carry their belongings.


If you can help in this drive for duffle bags and the things to fill them, which in addition to the above items also include age-appropriate toys for kids who might be anywhere from 0 to 18 years of age and stuffed animals, please deliver your donations by the end of this year to the County Attorney’s Office locations in either Ames (126 S. Kellogg, 2nd floor) or Nevada (1315 South B Ave.). If you have questions about the drive, please call 515-382-7255.