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Fourth Grader Makes Sure Others Get Toys for the Holidays

James French knew exactly what he wanted to do to give back to others this holiday season – one year in advance, even.

The Vanderbilt Charter Academy fourth grader watches the news on WZZM every morning with his parents. By the time James heard about their School Spirit Challenge last year, it was too late to sign Vanderbilt up for a Toys for Tots donation box.

50 toys donated for Toys for Tots.

This year, James was prepared and made sure Vanderbilt would do its part to help others by getting the school its first Toys for Tots box.

His motivation was to get every kid in the Holland area a toy for Christmas,” said Vanderbilt Principal Jeff Groggel.

Vanderbilt, which has outperformed the local district for 13 years, hit its goal of 50 toys donated. James and the students’ reward for hitting that mark was not just helping kids in the area, but also meant that Groggel would have to keep up his end of the deal and get hit in the face with a pie. As the donations kept piling up, students made sure to playfully tease the principal that a pie to the face would soon be coming.

Staff member with pie on his face.

James unfortunately was sick the day of the pie throwing, but Groggel said the Toys for Tots box was another example of the ingenuity and charisma he has brought to Vanderbilt since he was in Young 5s.

Great job, Vanderbilt Charter Academy!

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About Vanderbilt Charter Academy
‚ÄčVanderbilt Charter Academy is a tuition-free, public charter school in Holland, Michigan, serving students in Young 5s through eighth grade. It is part of the National Heritage Academies network, which includes more than 100 tuition-free, public charter schools serving more than 65,000 students in kindergarten through 12th grade across nine states. For more information, visit

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