Dresden Middle School students and gift-wrapping community volunteers are gearing up for the 12th year of the Lions’ Den Christmas store. Students will soon be shopping for Christmas gifts using the ‘Dresden bucks’ they have earned throughout the year.
Originating in 2011, the Lions’ Den store houses items donated along with items purchased with monetary donations. Students can shop the store using the Dresden Bucks that they earned for good behavior, meeting accelerated reader goals, good and/or improving grades, acting with kindness, showing leadership, and more. Dresden Middle faculty and staff award students with ‘bucks’ that are deposited into students’ accounts throughout the school year.
While the store is open at various times each semester, the Lions’ Den Christmas store is the year’s biggest event. Volunteers from the community sign up for a special day of wrapping gifts purchased by the students to take home to loved ones. The store holds a large variety of gifts for purchase such as toys, décor items, small kitchen appliances, home goods, health and beauty products, and more.
School Counselor Jamie Rickman has the huge job of managing the DMS Lions’ Den. She oversees the purchasing, coordination, store maintenance, and organizing the Christmas store setup. Rickman explained that the concept of the store teaches students responsibility and the value of hard work.
“Our students learn about math and reasoning skills in the classroom, but teaching soft skills requires a more out-of-the-box method of instruction. Students learn and apply concepts like value, earning, hard work, diligence, generosity, responsibility, and even altruism. Some students will spend every ‘buck’ earned to buy a new coat for a sibling or a special gift for a parent. If another student is running short, they often share ‘bucks’ with each other. The spirit of Christmas truly shines through these students,” said Rickman.
Rickman purchases items for the store with donations from local individuals, businesses, and DMS supporters who don’t live in the area.
“We are very fortunate to have support from local partners and caring DMS alum. Last year, we were contacted by alumni who don’t live in the area with requests to set up an Amazon Gift Registry to purchase items to be sent directly to the school. Even though these individuals have moved away, they still want to support DMS students. We also try hard to find the most affordable items possible to be good stewards of the donations we receive. DMS is honored by every donation, from both near and far, in support of students,” Rickman said.
Principal David Lewellen expressed appreciation for sponsors and volunteers as well as the two faculty members who launched the program in 2011, Jamie Rickman and Leigh Avery Hart.
“The Lions’ Den program exists thanks to School Counselor Jamie Rickman and the late Coach Leigh Hart. Students, faculty, and staff will always remember Coach Hart and her work with the Lions’ Den. We are also grateful for Mrs. Jamie Rickman and her tireless work managing this enormous operation,” Lewellen explained. “Our community is full of amazing supporters and volunteers who support the students. Thank you to each visitor, mentor, donor, and supporter of DMS. You are the model for our students to start visualizing how to mature into caring, supportive, contributing adults in our community,” he said.
For info about the Lions’ Den or to view the Amazon Gift Registry, visit the Dresden Middle Facebook page at facebook.com/dresdenmiddle.
For more about Weakley County Schools, visit weakleycountyschools.com.