For the past 15 years, staff and students in North Rose-Wolcott Central School District have marked the holiday season with its annual toy drive to fulfill a local family’s wish that their son be remembered with an outpouring of caring and goodwill.
Lance Cpl. Jarod Houghton, of the U.S. Marine Corps, was killed in the line of duty in 2003. North Rose-Wolcott teacher Amy Lynch Johnson worked with Houghton’s family and local faith organizations in the wake of the tragedy to find a way to keep his memory alive.
“For those of us who had known and loved Jarod, it made absolute sense,” Johnson said. “He was someone who always worked to make the world a better place, and doing good in his name was the best way to honor him.”
Wolcott Council of Churches and North Rose-Wolcott CSD grew what started as a humble effort by Johnson into one of the largest gift donation drives in the region. Since 2003, the North Rose-Wolcott Holiday Toy Drive collected more than 4,000 items. This year, donations will go to nearly 200 families.
Students and staff found creative ways to make the toy drive successful year after year, and Johnson said it shows North Rose-Wolcott as the “caring and amazing place” to call home.
“I wish that everyone could see the North Rose-Wolcott I do when I look around at my neighbors and co-workers each holiday season,” Johnson said.
North Rose-Wolcott student organizations including student council, National Junior Honor Society, participation in government classes and Middle School AV Club regularly participate and make contributions. North Rose-Wolcott MS technology classes make and donate wooden trucks.