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Students put forth an angelic effort

By DIANE GASPER-O'BRIEN

dobrien@dailynews.net

Angels Care is the name of the home health agency for which she works.

Amy DeWitt learned last week there are a lot of angels in Hays who care.

During a Christmas drive for the Mary Elizabeth Maternity Home in Hays, seventh-graders at Thomas More Prep-Marian Junior High School collected nearly 700 items to be given to the home for unwed mothers.

"I am so moved by what all you have collected," DeWitt said.

"This is what Advent is about," a teary-eyed DeWitt added, "that you all thought about other people during the Advent season. This is amazing."

DeWitt said her agency encourages its employees to do holiday drives for a worthy cause, and she thought of the maternity home.

"I've heard they get things a lot for babies but not as much for the mothers," DeWitt said. "So I decided to check into it."

While throwing around the topic at home, DeWitt asked her husband what he thought.

Bill DeWitt just happens to be principal at TMP,.

"I challenged my junior high students, because there are sometimes girls at Mary Elizabeth who are as young as they are," Bill DeWitt said while standing amidst the hundreds of items in Bob Leikam's seventh-grade homeroom. "They came through in a big way."

Amy DeWitt asked Sterling House if it would like to partner with the project, and Layton Hein was quick to get on board.

"Other people have done some things," said Hein, marketing manager at Sterling House.

"But I think your classes have done the best," he told Leikam's students. "It's neat to see junior high students doing this."

Students in Leikam's homeroom won snoballs -- promised to the winners by their principal -- for collecting the most items. But the entire junior high school participated in the project.

There were bottles and bottles of shampoo and rolls of toilet paper and paper towels, as well as many other toiletries, and even some clothing items.

And someone snuck in a few small fleece tied blankets for babies.

"Most of the things we get for the home is for the babies," admitted Rene Pfannenstiel, supervisor for Mary Elizabeth. "Now, we'll have some things to wrap for Christmas."

"And," she added, "I won't have to shop for a while."