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Student initiates toy drive at school
new deh lincoln toy drive pic
Tre Stevenson stands with a box full of toys collected during a Christmas toy drive at Lincoln Elementary School in Great Bend. The drive was Stevensons idea. The large stuffed lion in the picture is the schools mascot. - photo by DALE HOGG Great Bend Tribune

Tre’ Stevenson knew first hand what it was like to go without at Christmas time, having watched family members who didn’t have presents to unwrap.

So, when the Lincoln Elementary School fifth grader saw an article in the Great Bend Tribune on Toys for Tots (a program that gathers items for needy children), he got an idea. "He came to me last week and asked if we could have a little Toys for Tots thing here," said Principal Alvena Spangenberg.

She liked the idea, but it was getting kind of late in the season. However, through a call to the Salvation Army store in Great Bend, she learned the need was still great. "They said people come in up through Christmas."

So, the plan was put into motion.

"He said ‘I’m surprised you’re going to let us do this,’" Spangenberg said. "I said ‘why not, it’s a great idea.’"

That was last week. By Tuesday, the final day for donations, a box in the school hallway was overflowing with gifts. "The kids really responded," the principal said.

"He said he had cousins who sometimes don’t get gifts for Christmas," Spangenberg said. He realized this probably wouldn’t benefit them, but it would help someone.

"These are things you can’t teach," Spangenberg said. "It kind of hits you from out of left field. It gives you a good feeling inside."

"Tre’ has always had a very soft heart and has always been empathetic towards others," his mother Amanda Lee Clark said. He once asked to take a couple extra snacks to school for fellow students who couldn’t bring anything. "It just melted my heart.

"I have always tried to teach my children that although they don’t have much, they always have more than some others have and to be thankful for what they do have," his mother said. "Tre’ just decided to go above and beyond to try and make the world a better place. I am so very proud of him."

Once a student at Quivira Heights Elementary in Holyrood, Stevenson, his mother and three brothers (Deacon 8, Levi 6 and Brayden 4) moved from Hoisington to Great Bend in October where they live with Clark’s boyfriend Brent McKay.