Made in America Christmas Gets Schooled

Dec 19, 2011 7:03pm

What started as an effort to have people buy one American-made gift for Christmas has grown to transform entire schools and communities.

In Vernon, Vt., population 2,200, Made in America Christmas has spread from the Vermont Woods Studios to the local diner and then to the fire house and town hall. All along the way everyone was saying two simple words “We’re in!”

Those two words have translated into more than $550,000 of pledges to buy American products for the holidays. Remember, the math was simple, if each of us spent just $64 on American-made goods during our holiday shopping, the result would be 200,000 new jobs.

“In our office we all decided that we would promise to buy more American-made things this Christmas,” said Peggy Farabaugh, founder of Vermont Woods Studios. “We’re trying to encourage people to buy more American-made.”

“It is a tough sell, but you know, I think people are catching on,” Chad Woodruff, owner of Woodruff Furniture in Vernon, told ABC News. “I think it’s starting to make a difference.”

And it’s not just adults saying “we’re in”, it’s kids too. “World News” heard from schools around the country that have implemented Made in America into their teaching. From kindergarten through high school, teachers at all levels have used the series as an instructional tool.

“I am a High School AP Macroeconomics Teacher and just started teaching my Seniors about GDP when I caught your Made in America Series,” Cliff Nitschke wrote. “For homework, I asked my students to go through their clothing to see where it was made, and to what country was the GDP actually credited. … Thank you for making economics relevant.”

Deb Byrne, who teaches kindergarten at Mast Way Elementary in Lee, N.H., was inspired by the Made in America series to teach her students about locally made products. Byrne showed her class how alpaca fur can be turned into socks and coats.

Other teachers, like Darlene Reilley in Scranton Pa., have used the series as an extra credit opportunity, asking students to provide proof that one of their holiday gifts was American-made in exchange for additional points.

Deedy Whittamore’s fourth and fifth grade students at Holy Trinity Lutheran School in Bowling Green, Ky., were stunned when they were unable to find American-made souvenirs at Mammoth Cave National Park during a field trip. They responded by writing letters to local organizations as well as state and federal officials.

At Dunmore High School in Scranton, Pa., English teacher Michelle Summers told us that her students have decided to include a Made in America column in every issue of the school’s newspaper for the remainder of the year. The idea originated with the seniors, Summers said. They will be graduating from college in four years and “are adamant about creating jobs now so they will be there for them when they graduate,” she said.

In Manahawkin, N.J., the student council at All Saints Regional Catholic School started its own Christmas pledge and had a school-wide Made in America Day. For every pledge they received they placed a small American flag at the entrance of the school. The line of flags now reaches the parking lot.

Schools across the country have joined “World News’” Made in America Christmas. Are you in? Click here and let us know.

If you are looking to be inspired, check out our constantly growing list of Made in America Christmas gift ideas!

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