LSM does not Toy Around with Giving Back


John Ververis, Editor of Photography

As another year’s Toy Drive comes to a successful close, the Lewis Mills community could not be more satisfied with the outcome. Teachers, students, and staff strived to exceed last year’s total of 2,347 toys by at least one toy- and they managed to far surpass that goal, raking in 2,497 toys.

“Toys are given to the state police, as the toy drive has been facilitated by troops each year. The toys are then proliferated to Connecticut residents in many different locations,” said Principal Pamela Lazaroski.

For years now, Lewis Mills has made the holiday season an incredibly joyous one for children and teens all over the state. Although, toys are usually distributed towards the younger population as donations appeal more to children.

The Toy Drive began when the State Police approached the school several years ago to become a part of a contest between schools like Litchfield, Shepaug, Wamogo to see who could drum up the most donations. It is unsure whether the other schools continue to sponsor toy drives or not. At first, only about 500 or so toys were collected.  With each toy drive coming and going, Principal Lazaroski decided to up-the-game a bit: she set a goal of collecting 1500 toys. After being called crazy numerous times, she stepped up to the plate with a firm “we can do this.”

After a victorious year of exceeding the 1,500 goal, staff at Mills decided to increase the donation goal yearly.

“Yes we want the toys, yes we want to provide for the children in our area… But another reason for why I want to do this is that it promotes the sense of community that we want everybody to value,” Lazaroski said.

With the toy drive evolving at such a fast pace, the excitement continues to rise with each successive year. Staff and students crowd the office each day of the holiday season wondering how many more toys the school has received. If the goal ever feels out of reach, cash donations can and have been made, allowing staff to shop for more toys.

Lewis Mills has joined forces with the elementary schools of Region 10 and the community to collect toys, the mammoth results made clear when dump trucks rather than the state police cruisers arrive to receive donations.

Toys can range from appealing either infants, or teenagers alike, as all donations are accepted. If it is a toy you have to donate (being safe, and appropriate, of course) then that is ultimately what the school wants.

This year is the third year in which Mills has involved a “mascot” for the annual Toy Drive, this year being Louie: a giant stuffed monkey. The more toys donated, the more friends Louie makes in his own display case near the school’s main entrance.


It is encouraged that although students are given incentives to bring in toys, everyone should participate in the drive for the good of it.

One participant, history teacher Josh Krampitz, especially stood out to Principal Lazaroski for inspiring others to give back to the community. Krampitz orchestrated an earlier dental drive to gather oral hygiene products for the needy with the simple incentive of “a thank you and a firm handshake,” as his whiteboard announced for several weeks. As both a well-regarded history teacher and coordinator of Lewis Mills’ United Way Program, he has the right idea in which everyone should follow, Lazaroski said. That right idea simply being to do good, for good, to feel good. Lewis Mills highly values giving back, something clear to the benevolent women of the main office who could barely see each other’s desks through the hundreds of boxes of toys last month.