For the last 18 years, Stan and Rhonda Plausteiner have continuously planned and sacrificed for this event. It is called the “Jesse Plausteiner Mountain of Toys.”
The Plausteiners were the parents of Jesse, a boy who tragically died on a playground in the summer of 1996. The last few weeks of June at Dr. Hamman School are dedicated in memory of Jesse. Students who have modeled the same characteristics of Jesse are carefully selected by teachers. Their names are put into a draw that is done the day before the school year ends. They have the opportunity to win games, dolls, electronics, blocks, puzzles, and every other imaginable toy a child would love to own.
The grand prize of two bikes, one for younger children and one for an older student, are the final draws.
Every year, I view this mountain of meticulously hand-picked toys and I cannot help but feel overwhelmed with emotion by the generosity to bless the lives of children in this community. They have turned their unbearable grief of losing a son at such a delicate age into this selfless undertaking.
On the day of the draw, the classrooms are buzzing with the excitement of children in anticipation of hearing their names declared as the winner of one of the toys.
This has become a tender moment of reflection for me as I pause to wonder how many of the students can begin to imagine the magnitude of sacrifice involved. It has been my heartfelt privilege every year to personally share the story of Jesse with my students.
I tell them that he was a young man who continually put the needs of others before himself as he worked to promote good citizenship within the classroom. I tell them that he loved to come to school, and although he was not the top student in class, he treasured everything there was to love about learning.
I tell them how he often expressed how much he thought about his school and how he cherished helping his teachers. I tell them that even on his very last day of school he wanted to stay behind to help his teacher tidy the room.
Why do I know all of this to be true?
I know because that was my last memory of Jesse as he left my classroom, just days before his fatal accident.
On behalf of all the teachers and staff at Dr. Hamman School, we would like to pay a heartfelt tribute to Stan and Rhonda Plausteiner for their humble and unselfish actions in paying it forward to numerous children in our school community who have benefited from this event.