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Pinecrest fourth-grader organizes Giving Tree for those in need

Molly Reynolds is a fourth-grader at Pinecrest Elementary who started the Giving Tree to help donate hats and scarves to Hastings Family Service. (Star Gazette photo by Michelle Wirth)

Molly Reynolds, a fourth-grader at Pinecrest Elementary School, was watching the news this fall when she heard how cold this winter was going to get. She started thinking about all the people who might not have warm clothing and decided she was going to take action. That's when she came up with the Giving Tree, a way to collect hats and scarves for Hastings Family Service.

Reynolds wrote up a plan and presented it to Pinecrest principal Paul Bakker. After Bakker presented her plan to the school board, Reynolds said she got the "OK" from the superintendent and her written plan started coming to life.

"Christmas is all about giving and instead of what you get, it's what you give," Reynolds said.

The Giving Tree idea resulted in a small Christmas tree being set up outside the music room at Pinecrest. Students could decorate the tree with donations of hats, scarves and mittens. In addition, Reynolds decided to include food donations that would be left under the tree.

"The hats and mittens are suppose to represent ornaments and the food are the presents underneath the Christmas tree," Reynolds said.

Bakker said he thought the Giving Tree was a great idea when Renyolds first came to him. He said it is just as important for the students to be developing into good people and not just developing through academics.

"It was Molly just taking that upon herself and thinking kind of beyond our walls of what could she do that could help other families in Hastings, and that's a really neat thing," Bakker said.

Bakker has been impressed with how many students have contributed to the Giving Tree. He said it has been great to see the younger kids place their donated hats and gloves on the tree and to see how proud they are that they brought something in.

Nicky Norgard, Reynolds' mother, said she is very proud of what her daughter has done with the Giving Tree, especially as a 9-year-old.

"To orchestrate everything and put it all together is not a simple task on top of school, on top of all the other things that she's doing," Norgard said.

After just four days of the Giving Tree, Reynolds said Bakker asked her to start transporting some of the donations to Hastings Family Service because it was taking up too much room. Norgard said their first trip to Hastings Family Service resulted in 287 pounds of food donations. The Giving Tree will continue to collect items to donate through Dec. 19.

Michelle Wirth

Michelle Wirth graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire in 2013 with a degree in journalism and web design. She worked as a web content editor for a trade association before coming to the Hastings Star Gazette in 2016.

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