Bryan Middle School students have collected items throughout December to give right back to their peers.

Part of a school-wide Cubs Curriculum, which follows a theme of community and togetherness each month, students were encouraged to give back and help out in the Bryan Middle community.

Students have brought in food and hygiene items to be distributed back to their peers before the start of Christmas break. Along with that, the students created paper hand prints to decorate the paper trees hung in a conference room near the front entrance of the school.

The items will be distributed based on referrals by teachers and students.

Stephanie Suhr, a counselor at Bryan Middle, set up the idea for students to decorate the trees.

Suhr said there are more than 500 items to be handed out to students and their families.

“I’m helping collect all the food and (the students) are bringing all the food in,” she said. “The kids are driving what is coming in, which is amazing.”

Suhr said students were especially driven to start collecting items after knowing it was going directly back to their peers.

“It was shocking to them that they are the population this will serve,” she said. “It’s been pretty cool to watch and see them get involved in it. Sometimes you don’t know how a food drive is going to go.”

Several student groups have taken the reins on this project, including students in the No Place For Hate club and student council.

“A lot of different clubs are really latching on to the idea of this and also just creating a community that’s kind to one another,” Suhr said.

The drive is to encourage students to give back and create a kind environment.

“Every little bit adds up and counts,” she said. “You can get overwhelmed and think, ‘I can’t make a difference.’ I’m hoping what Giving December shows kids is they can.

“People appreciate not just giving and not just receiving, but also learning about other people, empathy, all of those things. I’m hoping this can turn into something that they’ll remember forever.”

Following the success of this food drive, Suhr said Bryan Middle is in the process of creating its own food pantry.

“This is going to help set that up and get them stocked up with a lot of different things for our families when they’re in need,” she said.

Along with that, Suhr said the school intends to create a backpack program when lockers are installed second semester.

Suhr said she also hopes the drive brings light to the events occurring in the middle school.

“I think it can be hard to be Bryan Middle School sometimes, because we’re Omaha Public Schools but we’re in Bellevue,” she said.

“This will help raise awareness that we’re here and doing great things within the Bellevue community.”

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