Throughout the month of December, the students and staff at McFarland Middle School are hosting several donation drives and fundraisers in support of the annual Community Christmas Basket program. In years past, MMS support has been a big factor in helping fill baskets and MMS assistant principal Trish Graber said they hope to improve on the more than 2,700 cans of food and $3,840 worth of toys the students and staff of MMS helped to deliver to needy families in the community last year. The main event for MMS is a school-wide competition where classes work to bring in the most canned food donations. Throughout the year, the three grade levels accumulate intramural points that are tallied at the end of the year and Graber said they plan to reward the class with the most donations with plaques and gift certificates. The school also hosts auctions. One of the more popular ones has students bidding to hire a teacher for a day, earning the highest bidder the privilege of slapping a whipped cream pie into the lucky teachers the day before the school takes off for winter break. Another auction, held Thursday, Dec. 5, put 18 teachers and 30 students in the running for students to purchase their services for a day. That means everything from hauling their books around, to making their favorite teacher wear their most-hated sports team's colors for a day. Jody Burpee is handling the Hire a Helper auction and said the sixth-grade bidders were very active in the event, which raised $700 for Christmas baskets last year. Another option to support the good cause is to buy 25 cent candy canes sold after lunch in the MMS cafeteria. Graber said all the money raised gets deposited into a school account for a collection of students to spend on new toys at Walmart. A handful of students will spend some time the morning of Dec. 17 picking through the store to find as many toys as possible to donate to the Othello volunteer fire department to be placed in baskets. She said all of the events kids are participating in are for a good cause and it also teaches them to be active within their community. "It's important for the students to be a part of the community and I think this is a really good way for us to support one of the community projects," she said. "A lot of our families benefit from this ... so, I want the kids to get involved and be able to give back to help out the community."