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Holiday project is special
Toy collection at Margaret Brent Elementary has a deeper meaning for the school's bookkeeper and project organizer

LEE WOOLF
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Date published: 12/15/2004

By LEE WOOLF

AS THE HOLIDAY season approached, Patti Batt began getting lots of questions from friends and co-workers at Margaret Brent Elementary School.

"They all wanted to know if I would be collecting toys again this year," said Batt, the bookkeeper at the first-year school on Mountain View Road.

"So, I finally said, 'why not?' Let's bring an old tradition to the new school."

You see, in December of 2000, when Batt was working as a library assistant at Moncure Elementary, she launched a project to collect gifts for patients at Children's Hospital in Washington. The medical facility has special significance for Batt, but more about that in a moment.

At Moncure, the generous support of students, parents and staff members enabled Batt to collect hundreds of toys and gift items during the past four years.

The project was so successful, in fact, that other Moncure staff members who joined Batt this fall in moving to Margaret Brent Elementary encouraged her to continue the gift collection.

And now, it seems, Batt's new school family has embraced the project, as well.

"Since it was new here, I wasn't sure how it would be received," Batt said. "But everyone has been great. The students have responded. And the PTO has been especially generous. They donated 50 fuzzy bears that will be on display in the school lobby."

Many of the other gifts have been placed around a Christmas tree in the school office.

"So far, we've gotten everything from infant toys to things like gloves and outerwear," Batt said last week. "We've got lots of games, boys' toys and Barbie dolls."

Batt is looking for new and unwrapped toys and children's gift items. The cutoff for contributions will be the end of the school day on Friday. Until then, anyone from the Stafford community may drop off an item at the school office.

"We're not only looking for gift items for adolescents, but also for teenagers," Batt said. "Many of the patients at the hospital are older children. So we welcome things like accessories, toiletries, makeup, CDs and hand-held computer games."

Batt has been inspired to help sick children at the Washington facility because her two daughters have been treated there.


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