After Kindra Szarka's second grade class presented a morning assembly to the entire student body at Mark Twain Elementary School, a charitable cause was set in motion to help children in need this Christmas.

After Kindra Szarka's second grade class presented a morning assembly to the entire student body at Mark Twain Elementary School, a charitable cause was set in motion to help children in need this Christmas.

Szarka said that students from each grade contributed gifts for the Salvation Army Angel Tree program, with a majority of donations coming from second grade students taught by Beth Hinton, Heather Overfield and Szarka. Each class met their individual goals, gathering a total of more than 100 hats, gloves, clothes, toys and other gifts. Throughout the process, the students kept coming back to the familiar theme from a video about the gift of giving: “It's better to give than to receive.”

“It kind of became a common theme for the second graders,” Szarka said.

Students collected items they would enjoy receiving for a Christmas gift. As the gifts piled up, the donors exhibited what their Leader in Me school is all about, Szarka said. The project “made a lasting impact on our students,” highlighting a path toward becoming lifelong leaders.

Szarka said the items were recently dropped off at the County Market collection site, where the teachers received a heartfelt thank you from Melissa Meeker, family service caseworker with the Hannibal Salvation Army.

Thanks to the students' teamwork and their unwavering focus on the spirit of giving, dozens of area children can look forward to a brighter Christmas this year.

Reach reporter Trevor McDonald at trevor.mcdonald@courierpost.com