Lisbon girl corrals donations of toys for disaster-relief gifts


October 04, 2001|By Lorraine Gingerich | Lorraine Gingerich,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

IN RESPONSE to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, Leah Koons, 10, a fifth-grader at Lisbon Elementary School, organized a drive she calls "The Children's Comfort Collection." Her church, Calvary United Methodist Church in Annapolis, had a campaign to collect stuffed animals to send to the children in New York and Washington who had lost a parent in the devastating attacks.

Leah wanted to contribute, but not just one stuffed animal. She decorated a large trash can and placed it in the Lisbon school's hallway. She then made an announcement on the school's public address system, asking for donations of new and gently used stuffed animals. And notices were sent home in the backpacks of more than 600 of the Lisbon kids.

Her call was answered - Leah managed to collect more than 600 stuffed animals over six school days, beginning Sept. 20.

"The teachers say it is quite touching to see a little kindergarten girl approach the overflowing trash can to place a single small bear with careful reverence on top of the pile," said Pam Jekel, Leah's mom.

"There have been so many animals, we have to make two pickups a day to keep the halls clear," she said.

About two-thirds of the stuffed animals have been shipped to police and firefighters in the two cities to distribute to children in hospitals, shelters and foster homes. The remaining one-third will be sent in about a week.

For the finishing touch, Leah tied a yellow ribbon around each toy's neck. Inside each bag of toys she placed a note that read, "Someone cares. It will be better, I promise. From Leah Koons, fifth grade, and the kids at Lisbon Elementary School."

"Although my daughter is the organizer of this effort, it is the children at Lisbon who are the real stars," Jekel said.

Farm Heritage Days

The Howard County Conservancy at Mount Pleasant Farm in Woodstock was host to the sixth Howard County Farm Heritage Days on Saturday and Sunday. The highlight of the event presented by the Howard County Antique Farm Machinery Club was the vintage farm equipment lined up in the fields.

With free admission and parking, the event drew large crowds to take advantage of the festival-like atmosphere. Along with the farm equipment, there were antique cars and trucks on display.

Wagon rides were given, and arts-and-crafts vendors sold their wares. You could see old-fashioned broom-making, take the kids on pony rides and eat funnel cakes, hot dogs and hamburgers. There also was a small flea market.

The theme of a bygone era prevailed with an old-time working blacksmith shop and vintage demonstrations. Scout leader Chris Brun of Ellicott City and boys from his den, John Brun, 9, and Ryan Hammond, 10, along with Girl Scout Kristin Moore, demonstrated manual corn shelling and grinding.

Girl Scouts Lauren Kolodrubetz, 11, of Highland and Michelle Moore, 11, of Columbia demonstrated butter-making the old-fashioned way - with a churn and handmade butter molds. Moms Marcy Kolodrubetz and Joyce Moore watched on the sidelines.

Mike Moore of Ellicott City brought a group of train lovers who put together a miniature steam engine display.

JoAnn Russo, coordinator of the Howard County Master Gardeners at Mount Pleasant, sold vintage plants from the farm. The master gardeners also were hosts of a bookmark-making station for children run by Hammond High School student Nina Perkins, 16.

Steve and Nancy Putman attended the festival with their two children, Trevor, 7, and Tanner, 4. Their niece, Kimmi Putman, 9, tagged along. Nancy Putman, a Howard County second-grade teacher, had attended an educational workshop at the farm during the week with her second-grade class. The Glenwood couple have a personal interest in antique farm machinery because they own a restored barn and some vintage tractors.

Two bands, Southwest Bluegrass and Lone Mountain, played country and bluegrass music in the open theater.

John Frank of Lone Mountain is president of the Antique Farm Machinery Club His daughters ran the information booth and promoted the club..

River Hill homecoming

This week, River Hill High School students are preparing for homecoming. Students have been participating in a week of Spirit Days - today is Patriotic Day and tomorrow the school will show its River Hill spirit at a pep rally. The community is invited to join River Hill students for a spaghetti dinner at 5 p.m. Tickets are $7 for adults and $5 for students. A bonfire will follow.

On Saturday, the RHHS homecoming parade begins at noon at the River Hill pool on Great Star Drive. The parade, led by the Marching Hawks band, will wind down Great Star Drive to River Hill Village Center.

The football game against Glenelg High School begins in the River Hill stadium at 2 p.m. Students will celebrate Saturday night with a homecoming dance at the school. Organizers plan to donate $1 from the sale of each ticket to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund.

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