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Candy for a good cause in Lynn

Brickett Elementary School fifth-graders, from left, Jariana McMillan, Mikayla Cruz, Adaira Delarosa, Camilo Balla, and Gabriel Nieves dump the last bag of candy into boxes ready to be mailed out to troops. (Spenser R. Hasak)

LYNN — Mikayla Cruz loves Hershey bars but the Brickett School fifth-grader didn’t hesitate to donate her Halloween candy to a good cause when a parent suggested sending sweet treats halfway around the world to soldiers in Afghanistan.

“I think they would like something sweet to eat and I have a cousin in the military,” Cruz said.

Brickett Principal Eileen Cole said the Lewis Street school’s generous students and their parents managed to muster over a two-day span more than 111 pounds of candy collected on Halloween and pack it into 11 boxes for shipment on Friday.

Cole knows her students like to help out and they have a special bond with military service members through visits to the school by people in the service. But she was surprised by the outpouring of post-Halloween goodwill.

“It was like in ‘Jaws’ — ‘I think we need a bigger boat.’ I looked at all the candy and said, ‘I think we need a bigger box,'” Cole said.

First-year Brickett Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) parent Lacie Harris said her inspiration for suggesting the candy-for-the-troops campaign at Brickett came from people she knows who serve in the military or have ties to the armed services.

Cole and Brickett teachers quickly embraced the idea on Wednesday and turned the candy collection effort into a friendly competition ultimately won by the fifth-grade class taught by Karen Poska and Lauren Kahn.

“The kids really rallied for the cause. They understand it’s a nice treat for the soldiers,” Poska said.

Poska and Cole said Brickett’s emphasis on character building includes encouraging students to count blessings in their lives and to not assume others share their good fortune.

“What we might take for granted could be a luxury for someone who doesn’t have a Halloween,” Poska said.

Cole said Harris and other Brickett PTO members are quick to suggest ideas for school projects and suggestions for how parents can help out around the school. Cruz said her friends are looking forward to working on a holiday-related project that will make someone smile.

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