OGDEN -- A slow economy didn't have any effect on students' giving at Mount Ogden Junior High School this year.
Students raised more money with their Change for Children event than ever before -- almost $8,600.
Students spent the last few weeks bringing in extra nickels and dimes to help fellow students and their families.
Twenty teachers and volunteers went shopping with the Mount Ogden students Thursday morning -- and now 26 families whose children attend the school will have a nicer Christmas.
Teacher Betsy Galbraith has headed the event for five years. She had previously worked with students to provide money and gifts for kids in Head Start programs when she realized that money was needed by kids at her own school.
Since then, the grade levels have competed each year to see which can raise the most money. Benchmarks are set up for teachers and student leaders to do outlandish acts for reaching specific amounts.
Galbraith also put her publications class, which produces the yearbook, school newspaper, publicity and service for the school, in charge of contacting businesses to get donations.
Jackie Stein is a ninth-grader in the publications class, one student of eight who were raising money. Students spent a day visiting businesses in downtown Ogden to ask for donations and raised $750.
"That was one of the biggest things we did," Stein said. She thinks it helped to walk in and ask for donations in person.
Galbraith said the outlandish acts performed by teachers and students helped raise the totals as well.
One teacher was splattered by a paintball gun, while others performed crazy dances. Some students jumped into the Ogden River, and others shaved their heads.
Ninth-grader David Rostkowski shaved off about 4 or 5 inches of hair. He never dreamed the students would raise enough money that he would have to shave his head.
"That's why I said I'd do it," he said with a grin as his hair was coming off. "It's good, though."
Galbraith believes students got a glimpse of the big picture this year.
"I shared more stories of what students in our school are in need of," she said.
Stein enjoys every fundraiser, but this year has been a little different for her and many of her friends.
"It's fun watching the teachers and students do crazy stuff, but being older, it's more about raising the money and seeing how it can help the kids," she said.
Kristi DeHaan, the bookstore manager at the school, went shopping with the students Thursday morning.
"I feel so overwhelmed. So many kids need so much," she said.
The hard part? Getting the kids to buy gifts for themselves instead of their family. She talked about one student who was wearing his mom's shoes. She tried to talk him into getting shoes for himself, which was difficult.
One of the students asked if he had won an award. When she explained that the school just wanted to help him out, he couldn't believe it.
"This is the best day of my life," he told her.
"I worry about getting my kids Christmas (gifts), but these kids need the world," DeHaan said.
Galbraith's family now donates to the Mount Ogden fundraiser each year rather than buying gifts for each other.
"We don't need anything -- not like these kids do," Galbraith said.
The activity has spurred her pride in the students and area businesses, she said.
"It says something for our school and this community."