Staff kisses up to alpacas
Johnson Creek High School business education teacher Jason Benisch kisses an alpaca as a part of a competition for students to collect items for Jefferson County Christmas Neighbors program.

JOHNSON CREEK -- Teachers and administrators of the Johnson Creek School District kissed farm animals Thursday, all in the name of a good cause.

The Jefferson County Christmas Neighbors program took place this week where Jefferson County families who are less fortunate had the opportunity to pick out toys, food and clothes for their family.
The annual toy, food and clothing distribution was started 61 years ago by the Rev. Clarence "Pop" Wendt. The distribution event started Tuesday at the Jefferson County Fair Park Activity Center, and the Adopt-A-Family program, which provides donors a more personal connection with a family in need during the holiday season, also concluded this week.
The Johnson Creek School District partnered with Christmas Neighbors among other school districts in the area to provide some of the food and gifts. The district provided food and gifts for over 500 Jefferson County families as well as adopted another 200 plus families. That is about 1,700 to 1,900 children who benefited from the drive this year. In exchange for the student's hard work students at the elementary, middle and high school level got to select a teacher to kiss an alpaca in front of the whole district.
After the weeklong competition elementary students picked fifth-grade teacher Tim Wagner and physical education teacher/assistant athletic director Trent Probst as the teachers who would kiss the alpaca, middle school students selected science teacher Fritzi Heckel and high school students picked business education teacher Jason Benisch.
The elementary school also challenged the middle/high school to see which school could donate more. The elementary school won the challenge resulting in middle/high school Principal Cale Vogel kissing the alpaca. Elementary Principal Kristine Blakeley also kissed the alpaca because the elementary school surpassed her 1,000-item challenge.
Students were also delighted to see Dr. Mike Garvey, superintendent, make good on his promise to kiss the alpaca if students donated more than 2,000 items.

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