Eighth-grader Steven O'Brien is a pretty good salesman. He displayed his knack for hawking things Saturday at Batavia High School's annual Arts & Crafts Festival.
With a variety of goods draped over his arms, he looked like a walking advertisement for "Treats for Troops," an outreach project for the military which began at Batavia Middle School in 2002.
Steven helped sell such items as necklaces, bracelets, picture frames, scarves, towels and blankets, priced from $1 to $10, along with founder and special education teacher Lucille DiSanto.
The money raised will pay for supplies for an "adopted" military troop in Iraq or Afghanistan that has a soldier from Batavia in it. Each year, a different troop is chosen.
"It's grown a little bit each year," DiSanto said. "We're definitely getting more attention."
The fundraiser for those in combat is the culmination of the efforts of her students, the student council and an organization called SWAT -- Students Working as a Team. They sell the items, some of which they make themselves, others are bought with donations. A McDonald's corporation MAC Grant pays for project costs.
"I felt it was necessary to help kids learn community service,” says DiSanto. “And what better way to do that than to help one of our own in Iraq or Afghanistan?"
The Treats for Troops table fared quite well, taking in $65 within the first 70 minutes Saturday. They received a total of $35 in donations.
"This is the most donations I've ever gotten," said DiSanto excitedly.
Steven took it upon himself to venture out beyond the table, working the crowd with his sense of humor. People bought stuff from him, and vendor Fran Norton donated a dollar.
"Anything for the boys," says Norton, who holds America's soldiers in high esteem. "Any services we can provide to them, they deserve it."
Anyone interested in learning more about the Treats for Troops project should contact DiSanto at Batavia Middle School. If you would like to learn more about Batavia High School's Arts & Crafts Festival, please contact Paul Pedersen, BHS Physical Education teacher and Batavia Ice Devils coach.