BRISTOL, Va. — Students at two local private schools spent part of Wednesday working to brighten Thanksgiving for some underprivileged families.

At St. Anne Catholic School, some 25 fifth-graders stuffed about 500 bags with donated candy. Across town, students at Sullins Academy prepared bags with toiletries and hygiene products and all will be taken to the Salvation Army next week for its annual Thanksgiving dinner.

“We’re doing this to help other people,” said 11-year-old Bryce Cheers of St. Anne. “Just because we got this candy doesn’t mean we can’t share it with people who didn’t get to go trick-or-treating.”

Ten-year-old Ben Fernandez said he participated to help people.

Both were part of an assembly line of students filling some 500 treat bags with bars and pieces of candy.

“We started six years ago, when my son Joshua came up with the idea,” parent and organizer Denise Mai said. “Instead of disposing of candy after Halloween, we decided to give them to people who attend the Salvation Army Thanksgiving Day dinner.”

This year’s donations exceeded previous years.

“We have so much more than last year,” Mai said. “We had just great support from the whole church and school.”

Mai said some friends whose children attend Sullins also wanted to get involved, so this year their students collected hygiene items.

“Our parents donated items like hand sanitizers, combs, shampoo, soap, body wash and other toiletries,” said Becca Powers of Sullins. “That was between 80 and 100 bags and we had a parent who is a dentist who donated a lot of dental hygiene products.”

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