By VAL OLIVAS, Four Points News
The Langevin children who attend River Ridge Elementary are making a difference this year for some Leander ISD families in need.
Nicholas, third-grader, and Harrison, second-grader, offered to sell their own toys, raising money to purchase two new bicycles for children in need.
“Mostly, I had the toys for a couple of years and they were older. I wasn’t playing with them anymore so I sold them to get money to buy the bikes,” Nicholas said.
Chris Langevin, the boys’ father said the idea started about three years ago when he was attempting to clean out some toys and things the kids had outgrown.
“I looked at all this good stuff and couldn’t really give it to be used for Christmas gift donations because it was not new anymore,” Chris said.
After initially donating items to the Salvation Army, the family shifted their focus to helping local families through the River Ridge Elementary giving tree.
“We came up with a plan to sell the toys they’ve outgrown and buy a bike for the RRE giving tree,” Chris said.
Last year they sold enough to buy one bicycle. This year they raised enough money to buy two.
“It was easy to sell our toys. It’s for the people who don’t have enough money or can’t afford that toy,” Harrison said.
Nicholas and Harrison raised about $150 for the bicycles this year. Their parents kicked in for helmets and bicycle locks.
The boys have inspired a classmate to donate in the same manner.
This is the fourth year RRE has offered the giving tree.
RRE volunteer Viviane Peterka started the program with the school counselor at the time, Mrs. Pittenger. “I call it ‘my baby’ and it is so far the best thing that I do every year. I’m thrilled to be a part of it,” Peterka said. This year’s effort is chaired by Simone Riedl.
The Hill Country Christmas Bureau—which has been in existence for over 30 years—pairs the needs of other LISD families with RRE in the form of cards which are hung on the giving tree inside the school.
HCCB’s primary goal is to ensure that every child in need, within the LISD boundary receives Christmas gifts.
“We have found the River Ridge community very kind and full of the spirit of giving as they support other children in our school district who may not otherwise experience toys and gifts for Christmas,” said Brenda Miner, HCCB volunteer.
According to Peterka, RRE fulfilled about 130 card requests in the giving tree’s first year and have fulfilled nearly 240 this year.
While the HCCB’s focus is to serve children 12 years and under, older siblings in the family are not forgotten.
“Four Points Middle School has a giving tree with tags for items geared toward gifts for middle school-aged kids. They, too, have been supportive of the district community,” Miner said.
Chris Langevin said through the RRE giving tree, the boys get a firsthand lesson in the process of raising money, donating to charity and following through on a project.
“You know, lots of times kids need a hands on approach to really internalize how to do good things,” he added. “As a family it provides a great way for us to teach the boys a valuable lesson, and really remember what the holiday season is all about.”