Wellesley High School is a competitive place. All nine fall varsity sports this year made state tournaments. The performing arts students regularly receive awards and recognition. And academically, WHS students get into some of the best colleges and universities in the country. (Hang in there, seniors, Early Decision notifications are coming out soon).
The most recent show of competitive spirit at WHS, however, has nothing to do with the everyday routine and everything to do with the holiday spirit. The students at Wellesley have that spirit big time, and they’ve shown it by bringing in over 2,000 unwrapped gifts, all for Toys for Tots, and all so that no Massachusetts child goes without a something super fun to open up during the holiday season.
It all started when Drama Department Director Kara Sullivan contacted radio station Mix 104.1 and nominated the school to participate in a friendly competition with other area schools to see which one could collect the most toys for the U.S. Marines-based program. To keep it fun, the radio station paired WHS with on-air personality Kennedy from the popular Karson & Kennedy show. The general idea is that on the show Kennedy would bubble WHS students along with enthusiasm, while needling Karson (who has his own schools he is paired with). The ultimate goal: 10k toys for Toys for Tots. Their friendly competition to see whose partner schools can pitch in the most toys has made for lively listening on the Monday – Friday 5:30am – 9am show.
As of last week, it looked like Wellesley was going to come in dead last in donations. Principal’s Secretary Diane Zinck said, “We weren’t anywhere close to the 2,000 toys goal last week. We were at more like 200. So we made a push through an all-school video, and we put the call out on our Facebook pages, and it worked. I’m so proud of the kids. I’m just really, really proud of what they’ve done.”
Zinck even called the radio show to assure Kennedy, apparently disappointed in the numbers Wellesley was putting up, that Wellesley would seriously bring it. After that Kennedy, in a back and forth with her on-air co-workers, stayed on Wellesley’s side through it all: “She told me last week they were coming in hot,” she crowed. Hot doesn’t begin to describe what was happening.
Andy Brown from Wellesley Toy Shop, who jumped in and donated toys to the cause said, “Every day I have kids coming in here and buying toys for the Toys for Tots drive. It’s been pretty unbelievable, the response. I had one parent come in here, and I won’t tell you who it was, but that parent left here with bags upon bags of toys, all to take over the the high school for Toys for Tots. But it’s the kids who are making an unbelievable difference because of what they’re doing.”
The kids didn’t do it alone, of course. Workers from the Wellesley Facilities and Maintenance Department donated their time to load the toys on a Town of Wellesley truck, drive it to South Boston, and unload it. From there, the toys will be distributed to needy families in Massachusetts.
“Now with over 2,000 toys, I don’t think we’re in last place anymore,” Zinck says. “We find out tomorrow who won the competition.”
Keep us posted, Diane, we’re waiting to hear the big news.