In just two days, a Verda Dierzen kindergarten class raised more than $380 for Christmas Clearing House … $388.75, to be exact.

Amy Mock’s Ladybug class of 23 students and some parent volunteers took shifts manning a hot cocoa and cookie stand, selling their products for 50 cents each at school Dec. 1 and 2. The customers

included Verda Dierzen faculty and staff, as well as other Woodstock School District 200 employees. This is the fourth year Mock has held the fundraiser.
“In the past, we averaged between $300 and $350,” Mock said. “With this year included, it’s somewhere between $1,400 and $1,500 we’ve been able to donate to the Christmas Clearing House. It’s not bad for just selling cookies for 50 cents a piece. A lot of people donate way more than we ask them to, and they don’t ask for change back. It’s a lot of generous people that come.”

Mock said she applied for a grant from the District 200 Education Foundation to cover the cost of supplies for the hot cocoa and cookie stand so all of the money raised would go to CCH. Her class participates in the fundraiser as part of its “giving back” project, where the students learn about generous causes that help the community. Mock said “bucket-filling” is the buzzword the children are taught for fundraising; they know they’re filling people’s buckets to bring them happiness and joy. She said they are also great salesmen, working the crowd to collect some extra cash for their cause.

“I’ve heard stories from some parents who are helping out that the kids are just the best salesmen out there,” Mock said. “They are telling customers what the money is going toward. They understand that it is going to Christmas Clearing House. They’re asking people walking by if they’d like to buy some cocoa and cookies. They get really into it, and they’re very proud of themselves, as they should be. And as a reward, they get to eat some leftover cookies.”Verda Dierzen kindergarteners Daniel Trejo, left, and Lucas Shull sell cookies for Christmas Clearing House. | Courtesy Photo

Verda Dierzen’s Giving Back project also includes collecting donations for the Woodstock Food Pantry in January and gathering monetary donations for Helping Paws Animal Shelter in March. The students present a check and visit  the animal shelter during a field trip.

CCH chairman Joe Starzynski said local fundraisers like Verda Dierzen’s make CCH possible. Each year, the Rotary Club of Woodstock and several other organizations, businesses and individuals come together to provide toys, winter clothing and boxes of food to more than a thousand families in the area. They also contribute time, money, space and services for the collection and distribution. This year, CCH will benefit more than 1,500 families and 2,700 children.

“In our community, we just have people who don’t necessarily seek any sort of attention or notoriety or anything like that,” Starzynski said. “They’re just doing their thing, and it’s huge.”

Woodstock Rotary works with churches, social service agencies and school districts to identify families and children in need. Marines Toys for Tots Foundation partners with Christmas Clearing House, supplying the toys collected within the Woodstock School District 200 boundaries.

For information about CCH, call Joe Starzynski at 815-245-4954.

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