CHEERS to Stafford Middle School eighth-grade students for their generous actions last week.

Since September, more than 30 students have collected more than 400 coats, and more than 600 hats and mittens to give to those in need.

They proudly walked the donated items across Broad Street street and hung them on the fence outside St. John's Church across from the middle school.

The items were almost immediately swept away, showing the great need in the region for warm weather clothing as we approach winter.

This is the fourth year the students have participated in the event, which was held appropriately on World Kindness Day.

This year's collection was by far the most successful as hats, coats and other warm weather gear came in abundance.

Brian and Candy Brink, volunteers with Sould Out Thrift Store, affiliated with the Mooers United Methodist Church, donated more than 50 coats and a bunch of hats and gloves after hearing about the effort.

The eighth grade volunteer students also used extras from the winter clothing drive to make a giving tree in their school after hearing that fellow students could not afford their own gloves and hats.

The tree was refilled three times the first day it was put up. Since the tree was put up last month they have refilled it more than 10 times.

Kids learn a lot of important lessons in school in terms of academics, but perhaps one of the most important lessons they can learn is kindness.

The clothing drive is a great example of how kids can learn that not only are there those in their community less fortunate than they are, but they can actually do something about it and make a difference.

Making a difference in one's community is about as lofty an achievement as a person can strive for.

So many people lament the woes of life, yet do nothing about it even when they have a chance to get involved.

These Stafford Middle School kids are learning the valuable lesson that they can get involved and make a difference, and it really isn't that hard.

Actions start with decisions, and hopefully these students, and more, will realize that making a difference is a decision that they can make quite often in their lives.

Whether it's collecting hats and coats, donating money or food, helping clean up their neighborhood or making friends with someone new, these small acts add up to making our community a better place for all.

The eighth-grade student adviser Carol Passno was amazed at what the group accomplished, and how quickly the items were absorbed.

"The kids are so proud of themselves," she said, and we agree.

"They're super."

Yes, they are.

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