The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

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December 30, 2012

Person of the Week: A giving spirit: On her birthday, second-grader collects gifts for others

JOHNSTOWN — Trista Krcha and her classmates at St. Benedict School in Geistown do more than just study at school. They also take the time to help others.

Trista and the others just finished participating in the annual Easter Seals Cambria/Somerset Million Pennies Campaign. They also collect food several times a year for local food pantries.

Trista also helps people outside of school. One way is by tossing coins into The Salvation Army kettle every time she passes one.

For her seventh birthday, on Aug. 6, the second-grader had two parties – one for her family members and family friends and another for her classmates.

For both parties, Trista asked the guests to bring nonperishable food items to help others instead of buying presents for her.

“I wanted to help out others,” Trista said about why she asked the favor.

Trista said she was thankful for all of the donations.

It’s important to help others, she said.

“Because the people who are poor don’t have any money and we do, so we help them,” she said.

Trista’s mother, Barb, said St. Benedict School always holds a food drive just before Thanksgiving, so they held on to Trista’s food until then to give to the school.

This time, in addition to the usual food drive to benefit a local food pantry, the Knights of Columbus council at St. Benedict Church sponsored a drive to benefit Hurricane Sandy victims.

Trista’s food went to help the hurricane victims.

Trista’s mother said her daughter came up with the idea of collecting food items in lieu of presents after another seeing a friend do the same.

She said she and her husband, Tom, are proud of their daughter for helping others.

“We hope she continues to follow this path and wants to do this even more in the future,” she said.

There are many youngsters in the area who are conducting such projects including, Conner Hagins, a student at Bishop McCort High School who has been collecting stuffed animals for children in hospitals, she said.

“It’s awesome,” she said.

For her efforts, Trista, a Richland Township resident, is the Person of the Week.

St. Benedict School Principal George Nace said it is fantastic that Trista asked other students to donate food instead of buying birthday gifts.

“She’s a sweet little girl,” he said about Trista.

The school has had other students who have asked people to donate items to help others instead of buying birthday gifts, he said.

Beth Eckenrod, Trista’s teacher, said she is proud of Trista.

“She’s just a really sweet girl. She’s very giving.”

“We have a lot of students like that, especially in my class.”

Many students at school and their families are always doing something to help others, she said.

“She (Trista) and her family are an example of the kind of families that shine at our school,” she said.

Tribune-Democrat editors select a Person of the Week from nominations made by readers.

To nominate someone, call 532-5058, 24 hours a day.

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