Twenty-seven first graders at The Episcopal School of Knoxville spent time Tuesday loading enough toys, books, clothes and bicycles to fill a 26-foot U-Haul truck and then helped deliver them to the Holiday Bureau in Oak Ridge.

It was the culmination of the school’s 16th annual drive to help supply Christmas gifts for needy Anderson and Roane County families. The Holiday Bureau on Emory Road in Oak Ridge will take those items and refurbish them as needed in time for Christmas 2017.

The project is an eye-opening experience for these very young students, who plan the Episcopal School drive, solicit toys from others and give their own, and then sort and deliver them. The first graders have an able partner in the well-organized Holiday Bureau, which serves about 800 families yearly and operates wholly on volunteer effort. The Holiday Bureau has been in operation for 70 years.

Last year alone, the Holiday Bureau was able to provide over 800 families with new toys, bicycles and helmets, and to assist another 1,400 individuals with clothing.

The Episcopal School drive began with a school-wide call in early January for good, used toys. The first graders took the donated toys and stored them, first in bags in their classrooms and then in a giant bin behind the school gymnasium. Just prior to Tuesday, the delivery day, they sorted the toys into categories: things in bags, including clothes, things in boxes, such as games, and things with wheels, like bicycles, tricycles, and scooters.

On delivery day, the first graders, with the help of parent volunteers, loaded the sorted items onto the truck. In total, the items entirely filled one 26-foot truck.