OMMS raises $20,000 during 25th annual Toys for Tots fundraiser

Published 2:35 pm Wednesday, January 3, 2024

By NOAH WORTHAM | Staff Writer

NORTH SHELBY – Oak Mountain Middle School students recently worked together to raise $20,000 worth of toys for children during the holidays as part of the school’s 25th annual Toys for Tots tradition.

After reaching this year’s goal, students with the National Junior Honor Society used the money to shop for new toys at Walmart Supercenter on Highway 280 before presenting the toys to the U.S. Marine Corps during a special Christmas assembly program on Dec. 8.

“Students, this year your generosity helped us raise $20,000 for Toys for Toys,” said Jai Varakuti, an OMMS student and National Junior Honor Society officer. “Thanks to everyone’s hard work and willingness to give, hundreds of children in our area will wake up to gifts on Christmas morning.”

Each year, OMMS rallies together to raise $20,000 worth of toys to give to children for the holiday season. Over the last 25 years, they have raised $650,000 for the cause. This year the school was able to reach the goal thanks to Interventionist Gretchen Luenberger who donated $1,400 worth of hot wheels and other toys from her collection. OMMS was able to purchase 2,934 toys for the initiative in 2023.

“It is our sincerest wish that these toys will not merely represent material things, but that they will bring joy and hope to the children who will receive them,” Varakuti said.

In this year’s edition of the program, the sixth graders raised $2,537.09, the seventh graders raised $1546.36 and the eighth graders raised $6,188.62. Funds were raised both through cash and online donations.

“Thanks to each one of you for helping to make Christmas wishes come true for hundreds of children in need this year,” NJHS officer Audrey McClain said.

After the assembly concluded, members of the OMMS National Junior Honor Society assisted Marines in loading trucks with all of the toys that were collected.

“I am reminded once again, what great faculty and students I surround myself with each and every day,” Principal Sandy Evers said. “Many families will have a brighter Christmas thanks to your generosity and your willingness to get our community involved in this annual event.”