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A Beary Kind Holiday Season

December 18, 2017

Seventh-grade students at Jonas E. Salk Middle School in Michele Witte's class recently decided to pay it forward by selling colorful teddy bears as part of the school's movement, Tyler's Teddies, after a 10-month-old named Tyler died due to a defective juvenile product. Students sold bears during lunch periods to benefit Kids In Danger, an organization dedicated to improving child safety products.

The students read the book "Pay it Forward" by Catherine Ryan Hyde during the summer and encouraged their fellow peers to buy a teddy bear, which they sold for $3 each, to give to someone else this holiday season as part of the Pay it Forward movement. Many students participated by purchasing multiple bears to give to friends and family.

"We're trying to get as much awareness as we can," said seventh-grader Cassidy Steiner. "We have social media accounts, including an Instagram and an email if anyone needs to contact us. We're doing really well so far."

"It feels great to be giving back because it is near the holidays so there's a lot of joy going around," added seventh-grader Vanessa Monnielo. "It's about giving teddies and making people feel happy."

To showcase how many students paid it forward, the class plans on having students who contributed to the cause to fill out a paper bear after the holidays and have each student write how they passed it on. The bears will be displayed in the school. Students who contributed also were encouraged to wear pajamas on Dec. 19.

"We have really been focusing this year on the concept of paying it forward," said Witte. "I'm hoping that the students are able to realize that in giving, especially around the holiday season, they can really pay it forward to their community and families and understand the meaning of what the holidays are all about."

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