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story.lead_photo.caption Democrat photo/Austin HornbostelTeachers at California Middle School presented Moniteau County Toys for Tots Program Coordinator Dan Mesey with a check for $1,077 last week. The California school district helped to raise money for the charity together with teachers from Tipton, Jamestown and High Point.

Teachers across Moniteau County recently teamed up to help raise more than $1,000 for charity.

Teachers with the California School District, along with Tipton, Jamestown and High Point, accumulated $1,077 for the Moniteau County Toys for Tots Program by coordinating a Jeans Week for teachers, where employees could make a donation in exchange for being able to dress down in jeans for the week. Teachers paid $5 each to participate for the week. A portion of the funds also came from the elementary school's book fair — patrons were given the option to round their purchases up to the next dollar for the charitable cause.

Andrea Johnson, a math teacher at California Middle School, said the idea originally had only California in mind, but her experience with volunteering for Toys for Tots expanded the idea's scope to include educators throughout the county. Johnson said she started volunteering with Toys for Tots during its first year in the county in 2017.

Johnson said California has already hosted Jeans Weeks for other causes in the past, so the idea felt like a natural fit.

"In all of that is when the wheel started turning — well, what if because this is a county-wide organization, (we) had a county-wide jeans week?" Johnson said.

From there, she worked to contact the other schools and their administrators to coordinate the effort, which culminated in more than $1,000 raised.

This was a first for the district as far as contributing toward Toys for Tots goes, Johnson said — she said the hope is to try to do something like this again during future holiday seasons.

"Because it's for such a good cause, and it's for the kids," Johnson said. "We, as teachers, know how important that is."

Johnson said, with everything said and done, she was happy to be able to play a part in helping Toys for Tots.

"It's very humbling to be able to be involved with them, whether it's just volunteering on a distribution day, to see the families and to be able to give back to the community as a teacher, knowing we see kids and we know families that are in need," Johnson said. "So we hope that this helps make their holiday season brighter."

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