Of the Baker City Herald

Kids are never too young to learn about giving, and students at Jumpin' Jacks Preschool recently demonstrated their community spirit.

On Wednesday, they presented a check for $125.20 to the Eastern Oregon Chapter of the American Red Cross after a pop can drive.

That's 2,504 empty cans and bottles.

Three weeks ago, the 21 students were sent on a mission to gather up as many pop cans as they could. Because the kids range in age from 3 to 5, parents also pitched in.

This is the second year for the Red Cross fund-raiser, said Terrie Laeger, teaching assistant. Her sister, Lynne Hawkins, is the teacher at Jumpin' Jacks.

Laeger said the school started the can drive last year after the Sept. 11 attacks.

andquot;The kids didn't really know what was going on,andquot; she said. At the preschool, they encourage community involvement, so Laeger and Hawkins decided to do a fund-raiser for the local chapter of the Red Cross.

andquot;It helped them so much to know they were contributing,andquot; Laeger said.

The project is titled andquot;Cans for a Cause,andquot; and the school keeps a running tally of the number of cans kids have collected.

Then, when every can is counted, the kids learn a song and present the money to a representative of the Red Cross. This year the kids sang andquot;Grand Old Flagandquot; and gave a large, symbolic check to Christina Wood, a Red Cross board member.

Wood sat on the floor with the kids and, after the song, talked with them about the Red Cross.

The kids were ready for this.

She started to say, andquot;If your house catches on fire andquot;

Twelve voices piped up with versions of andquot;We know that!andquot;

Laeger said she and Hawkins discuss the importance of the Red Cross with the students beforehand so they understand where the money will go.

andquot;We talked about how the Red Cross helps if your house burns down or you need a place to stay,andquot; Laeger said.

Something that bothered the kids was that if their home does catch fire, Wood told them to just get out and not to worry about toys or books.

That advice provoked a chorus of stories about favorite toys.

andquot;It's important to get out because know what? We have a teddy bear for you,andquot; Wood said, referring to the soft, Beanie Babies bears the Red Cross donates to fire victims.

After they learned all about fires, Hawkins asked the students if they had fun collecting cans for the Red Cross.

andquot;Yeah, there's the money over there in that green bucket,andquot; Brandon Henner said, pointing to a large bucket filled to the brim with aluminum cans and plastic bottles.

Laeger said they hope to continue this fund-raiser every year.