Fort Payne Middle School students donate 1,000+ of their toys to needy families for Christmas

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FORT PAYNE, Ala. (WHNT) - Students at Fort Payne Middle School are involved in a program that incorporates multiple aspects, that for fifth and sixth graders are impressive. They've built a robot, and if that's not impressive enough, they're doing a project to benefit kids in the area where they live.

A group of Fort Payne Middle School students crowd around a table, watching a small robot make its way through different 'missions'. They exclaim when it does, and groan when it doesn't do quite what it's supposed to.

"Now to another elf with something to say about poverty," fifth grader Laurel Shugart announces, dressed as a 'news reporter' holding a microphone, standing on stage in front of several of her peers, who are colorfully dressed as elves. It's a presentation about a project the group has been working on, to be presented to judges.

The robot and presentation are part of the First Lego League program.

Those two aspects are not all the program requires, though.  "We were challenged to come up with projects that we cared about and that involved the community and didn't cost the community any money," Shugart explains.

So the students came up with a toy drive.  "We have a bunch of excess toys that would probably be thrown away in a few years so we decided to come and donate them to kids who don't have any." Shurgart says.

Those toys will be going to a widespread area.

James Woodin is the executive director of the Upper Sand Mountain Parish. He goes by Pastor Woody, and with the help of the dozens of middle schoolers, he's loading up all the toys. "We have a Christmas toy store ministry in some of our parish churches," he explains, "Kids will be able to come in December with their parents to shop for toys for Christmas." The toys will go at very low rates.

The kids collected more than 1,000 toys to give away.

"It was kind of hard for us to let go on some of them, but once we donated them we all felt really good to know they would be reused and would make someone really happy," Shugart says.