Tuesday, December 05, 2000

Teens shop to help needy

By Sue Kiesewetter
Enquirer Contributor

        FAIRFIELD — For nearly three hours 17-year-old Teresa Diefenbacherstrolled the aisles of Kohl's and Meijer with classmates.

        They weren't looking for the coolest shirts or hottest CDs. These teens were looking for the best bargains on snowsuits for infants and trainer potties for toddlers. The students were on a mission: buy something fun and something practical for each of eight children of a family they didn't know.

        The teens from Cincinnati Christian Schools were spending money they and their classmates had collected for two middle/high school projects: They had “adopted” a family of 10 through Common GroundsMinistries and were also providing gifts for the Christmas Store, sponsored in Over-the-Rhine by a partnership of 75 churches.

        The store opens next week and allows low-income parents to buy the donated items at a deep discount.

        “It was a blast,” Teresa said Monday, while wrapping a toy telephone. “You were changing people's lives.”

        The students collected about $1,600 over two weeks and bought gifts for 24 children and two adults.

        “We went first with the stuff they needed. Then we went for the fun stuff,” said 17-year-old Krysta Bustin of Sharonville. “We got a phone that teaches numbers - and makes lots of noise. Then we found a fire engine that shakes, rattles and makes lots of noise.”

        David Greutman, 16, of Hamilton, donated money he had earned from a part-time job “because people should know there are people who care about them.”

        But the students' efforts at the 544-pupil school aren't ending with Monday's delivery of the gifts. The school's National Hon or Society put a barrel in the school lobby to collect teddy bears.

        It will be there through Dec. 12 to collect donated bears that will be presented to children in Hamilton County's Head Start programs.

        After just a week's time, 77 bears had been put in the decorated barrel, said Carmella Taylor, 17, National Honor Society president.

        “It's really, really exciting. Since we're so blessed, we can bless others,” the Forest Park teen said.

        Each of the school's kindergarten through fifth-grade classes also adopted a family to buy gifts for through Common Grounds.

        Those collections will continue for another week or so with volunteer parents using the collected money to buy gifts, using provided lists from the families.

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