The holidays are a time for giving, caring and compassion.
Such personal attributes are regularly emphasized at Eugene Field Elementary School, so the timing could not be better for this month's charcter trait — compassion.
That made Thursday's fourth-grade volunteer effort especially meaningful as youngsters headed out to deliver Meals on Wheels.
The program delivers hot lunches to local residents in need of nutritional assistance through the Nodaway County Senior Center.
Eugene Field students have been helping out with the program for roughly five years, and Principal Holly Brady said their participation helps develop a sense of pride and accomplishment.
"We always talk to our fourth-graders about setting an example for younger students," Brady said. "And the younger students really look up to them."
Brady said that over the years many younger students have talked about wanting to get into fourth grade so they can help deliver the lunches, an activity that has become a badge of honor at the school.
Assistant Principal Brian Lynn typically coordinates the event, but other staff members are always willing to help, including Linda Seipel, who took the kids out on Thursday.
Leading up to the front door of the school are 12 Spoofhound paws. In past years, each was labeled with one of the school's monthly character traits.
The paws were re-painted over the summer, and the words are now gone. Even so the traits are emphasized daily by teachers and staff.
"We work really hard to show compassion and all of the other traits," Brady said. "Our students enjoy giving back to other people, and this is a great time of year for it."