Floyd Dryden Middle School student council members gather around toys collected during a drive for Christmas presents to children in need at FDMS on Monday, Dec. 17, 2018. The toys and gift cards were handed over to the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services’ Office of Children Services for distribution. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Floyd Dryden Middle School student council members gather around toys collected during a drive for Christmas presents to children in need at FDMS on Monday, Dec. 17, 2018. The toys and gift cards were handed over to the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services’ Office of Children Services for distribution. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

This middle school collected a ‘mind-blowing’ number of toys for a good cause

Effort gives gifts to 17 youths in OCS Christmas toy drive

When it comes to toys, Floyd Dryden Middle School Student Council didn’t play around.

In total, the council collected more than $2,000 from Floyd Dryden students along with toys from all of the school’s classrooms, which helped each classroom in the middle school to sponsor a child helped by Alaska Department of Health and Social Services’ Office of Children’s Services annual holiday toy drive.

“It exceeded my expectations,” said Class President Grant Pierson, an eighth-grade student. “It was just insane the amount of toys they had. We wanted to give kids some happiness during the holidays.”

[Floyd Dryden orchestra students hand out cookies]

In total, 17 kids will have multiple presents to unwrap thanks to the the middle school students.

The idea for the drive came out of a student council brainstorming session, and the effort had the full support of the student body, Pierson said.

“It was a really fun experience,” said Tessa Bryson, a student representative for Janet Lopez’s sixth-grade class.

Student council adviser and sixth-grade teacher Rebecca Farrell said students were encouraged to consider the age of the child they were supporting and to take that into account when making donations.

“It wasn’t just a bunch of little stuff,” Pierson said.

Donated items included a 4-foot tall teddy bear and bikes, Pierson said, and student council adviser Rebecca Farrell said items included Legos, gift cards and more, too.

“It was sort of mind-blowing how much the kids had gathered,” said Alana Medel, foster care licensing supervisor for OCS. “Each classroom took on one kiddo and bought several items for them. It was incredible. This is the first year anything quite like this has happened.”

The long-running, annual OCS drive collects presents for children in the custody of the state of Alaska, Medel said. The program typically helps more than 130 children in need, but Medel said that number is often exceeded.

Medel said some last-minute donations are still being accepted, and donations can be dropped off at the OCS office at 9105 Mendenhall Mall Road No. 369 during business hours, which are 8 a.m.-5 p.m.

This wasn’t the first and won’t be the last time Floyd Dryden students have tackled a sizable service project.

Making a difference in the community has been a theme for the student council, and it has spearheaded monthly service projects that have found similar levels of success, Farrell and Pierson said.

[Students commended for food drive]

In November, students collected nearly 4,000 non-perishables for a canned food drive.

“It’s one of the largest amounts of food we’ve ever had,” Pierson said.

Options are being weighed for future endeavors, including sending boxes of toiletries, snacks and thank-you cards to soldiers and volunteering to visit with occupants of senior housing.

“It makes us proud of our student body,” Farrell said.


• Contact arts and culture reporter Ben Hohenstatt at (907)523-2243 or bhohenstatt@juneauempire.com.


Lynn Logan, of the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services’ Office of Children Services, is helped load Christmas presents collected by Floyd Dryden Middle School student council members at FDMS on Monday, Dec. 17, 2018. The student organized a school money and toy drive for the OCS program to help needy children. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Lynn Logan, of the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services’ Office of Children Services, is helped load Christmas presents collected by Floyd Dryden Middle School student council members at FDMS on Monday, Dec. 17, 2018. The student organized a school money and toy drive for the OCS program to help needy children. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Lynn Logan, left, and Alana Medel, of the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services’ Office of Children Services, meet with Floyd Dryden Middle School student council members to collect Christmas presents to children in need at FDMS on Monday, Dec. 17, 2018. The student organized a school money and toy drive for the OCS program. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Lynn Logan, left, and Alana Medel, of the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services’ Office of Children Services, meet with Floyd Dryden Middle School student council members to collect Christmas presents to children in need at FDMS on Monday, Dec. 17, 2018. The student organized a school money and toy drive for the OCS program. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Floyd Dryden Middle School student council members gather around toys collected during a drive for Christmas presents to children in need at FDMS on Monday, Dec. 17, 2018. The toys and gift cards were handed over to the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services’ Office of Children Services for distribution. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

Floyd Dryden Middle School student council members gather around toys collected during a drive for Christmas presents to children in need at FDMS on Monday, Dec. 17, 2018. The toys and gift cards were handed over to the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services’ Office of Children Services for distribution. (Michael Penn | Juneau Empire)

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