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Nolan Middle School students warm hearts with mittens project

Students participate in Magic of Mittens project by providing gifts to those in need.

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Michelle Wagner, a seventh grader at R. Dan Nolan Middle School, said she knew she wanted to give back to her community this holiday season.

She took home three mittens, meant to represent three Manatee County families, as part of the Magic of Mittens project. The project finds families in need, and people volunteer to adopt a family to provide items including clothing, toys, blankets and pillows.

“I really like to be able to help people,” Wagner said. “It feels really great. I have things others don’t, so I want to help them get stuff they want.”

Wagner decided to use some gift cards she hadn’t spent to purchase items, such as school supplies, an outfit, and a bag of products from Bath and Body Works, for children in the families. Her parents helped with the rest.

Wagner was one of about 80 students in Nolan’s Future Business Leaders of America club wrapping gifts Nov. 19 for the Magic of Mittens project.

Stefani Heidenthal, the FBLA adviser at Nolan, said it’s incredible to see her students engaged in the project and others in the school wanting to help as well.

This year, the Magic of Mittens project will benefit about 135 families and 350 children across five Manatee County schools.

Lakewood Ranch resident Beth Grogan created the Magic of Mittens project about 15 years ago when her daughter, Madi, came home from the Rowlett Academy for Arts and Communication and told Grogan a boy in her class didn’t receive any Christmas gifts.

Since then, Grogan continues to work with school clubs, community organizations and other groups and families to provide items for families in need.

“All of this is covered by the warmth, kindness and generosity of the community,” Grogan said. “It’s really extraordinary support and love.”

Grogan chose mittens because she would use cutout paper mittens to represent each family that needed to be adopted.

“It’s warming up the holidays for children in need,” Grogan said. “I put the little gift request on cutout mittens and hang them from clothes pins. It’s a cute way to do it at schools for people to adopt families.”


Interested in adopting a family? Contact Beth Grogan at [email protected]


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