Troy schools take part in toy drive
By Marianne Eisenbrandt Correspondent December 28, 2012 2:42PM
Students and staff from the Troy School District collected toys to benefit the Mark Staehly Foundation Toy Drive. | Marianne Eisenbrandt ~ For Sun-Times Media
Updated: January 31, 2013 6:18AM
Yellow was the color of the two “sleighs” used to collect the toys that were donated for the annual Mark Staehely Foundation Toy Drive to benefit patients at Lurie’s Children’s Hospital (Children’s Memorial) and Provena Saint Joseph Medical Center.
Ten students from the Student Council of Troy Hofer Elementary School and six Troy Middle School students recently journeyed around the Troy School District in two school buses collecting the toys that were donated by students and staff.
The student “elves” went into each school and carried the bags and boxes of toys out to the Troy transportation sleigh. This is the 12th year that Troy students and staff have been involved in the toy drive.
Ken Surma, director of operations, said by the end of the route, the two sleighs were loaded with donated toys and the smiles on the faces of the elves were bigger and bigger with each stop.
Surma said each seat in the two school buses was packed with boxes or bags of toys (except for the six seats that the elves used on each bus).
Troy Middle School was the biggest contributor as it collected more than 500 toys and more than $150 in cash donations.
The top six contributors at TMS were seventh-graders Tori Pasdertz, Brooke Rousonelos and Amanda Long and eighth-graders Amara Rousonelos, Bailey Mattas and Sami Henderson. Runner-up was seventh-grader Mia Bucciarelli.
The top seventh-grade class was Jennifer Becker’s first-period class and the top eighth-grade class was Kelly Pullara’s first-period class.
Mia Bucciarelli spent her own money to buy gifts at Target for the toy drive. “These kids are already in so much pain. Not having a gift at Christmas would just add to that,” she said.
Tori Pasdertz said her family knew Mark Staehely personally. “We shop with my grandma each year for the toy drive. We want to help kids like Mark enjoy the holiday season,” she said.
A true hero, Mark Staehely was diagnosed with stage 4 neuroblastoma, a rare pediatric cancer when he was 12 years old. He dedicated his shortened life to raising money for research and helping other children fighting cancer. One of his most significant contributions was the toy drive he organized at Children’s Memorial Hospital in 2005.
Upon arriving at the Staehely Foundation toy hub, the buses were met by Sue Staehely, Mark’s mom, and her band of elves. Surma said her elves were overwhelmed with gratitude at the amount of toys that were donated by the students and staff at Troy.
Surma said while many staff and students were involved in spearheading this effort, he gave a special thanks to Lucy Feeney, assistant principal for transportation services, for organizing the pickups at each of the schools; Jennifer Munday, TMS eighth-grade communication arts teacher, for her work at the school and dodge ball game; Diana Coveny, teacher at the Troy Hofer School, for organizing her student council members to help; and Barb Gray and Michaelina Rogge for donating their time to drive the buses.