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Santa's helpers ready for St. Charles East auction
By Josh Stockinger | Daily Herald Staff

St. Charles East High School senior Carlton Fisk, 17, and teaching assistant Pierce White clamp and nail together a marble hockey table for a toy drive to benefit children at Mooseheart.

 

Josh Stockinger

St. Charles East High School senior Austin Bicking, 17, sands a toy wagon that will be auctioned off Tuesday to raise money to buy gifts for children at Mooseheart. This is Bicking's second year participating in the annual toy drive at East.

 

Josh Stockinger

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Published: 12/15/2008 12:07 AM

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Austin Bicking enjoys woodworking just fine on its own, but the 17-year-old said there's nothing quite like seeing his creations brighten the holidays for less-fortunate children.

"I love seeing the reactions of the kids," said Bicking, a St. Charles East High School senior who has participated for three years in the school's annual Mooseheart toy drive.

Every year, students in East's wood shop classes spend months crafting handmade toys, furniture and dozens of other goodies to benefit children at the school near Batavia. The items - typically 50 or so - are sold at a charity auction, with proceeds financing the holiday wish lists of more than 200 Mooseheart students.

"This year, because of the economy, we aren't trying to beat last year's goal" of around $8,000 said Principal Bob Miller, who started the program six years ago. "We'll be happy if we can do as well as we did before."

Bidding starts at 2:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 16, in East's Little Theater, 1020 Dunham Road, with item viewing in the hour preceding the auction. The next day, Miller will take his helpers on a shopping spree with the proceeds. Toys will be delivered Friday, Dec. 19.

Jim McCarthy, an East woodworking instructor, said there are several new kinds of items up for sale this year, including a croquet set and a three-in-one chess, backgammon and checkers table.

He said he's always amazed by the effort his students put into their projects. One student this year spent about 30 hours of his own time working on a project outside of class, he said.

"They understand that giving to somebody else is very fulfilling," McCarthy said.

Senior Jerome Townseo, 18, has been involved for three years and likes to see his classmates demonstrate the spirit of giving. In years past, he built a toy snowman and a ping-pong set. This season, it's a toy truck.

"It's great just to see the smiles on the kids' faces," Townseo said of being there when the toys are delivered. "It puts everybody in the spirit of Christmas."