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Roosevelt Elementary student Axel Bennett places items into a "sub bag" he and his classmates are making for each of the substitute teachers.

A group of students has been brightening the days of substitute teachers at Roosevelt Elementary School in Mason City for the past three months.

And Friday was no exception.

“Thanks for making us feel so welcome,” said Katie Koehler, who was substituting for a second-grade class Friday. “We love this.”

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Roosevelt Elementary student Zane Riser reacts happily as substitute teacher Katie Koehler shows her students what she received in the "sub bag" made by Brooke Onder's class.

Koehler was among four substitute teachers who received a handwritten thank-you card and a brown paper bag filled with goodies, like coffee, mints, chocolates and a bag of cookies, made, packaged and delivered by Brooke Onder’s class.

Onder, a special education teacher at Roosevelt, received funding from DonorsChoose.org, a nonprofit that allows individuals to donate directly to public school classroom projects, in February.

“As a school, we can’t function without substitutes, so we just want to let them know how important they are to us,” she said.

Before delivering the bags to each of the substitutes Friday morning, six students from kindergarten to third grade took turns filling the bags.

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Roosevelt Elementary student Mikiah Berneman and a student aide staple the folds of a "sub bag" the class is making for each of the substitute teachers.

Zane Riser added the cups and coffee pods. Sisters Nora and Autumn Cooper counted the candy. Axel Bennett placed a set of three colored rings in the bags for teachers to give to students who are doing the right thing, acting kindly and being safe. Anthony Chavez wrote the name of the teachers on each of the thank-you cards, and Mikiah Berneman stapled the cards to the bags.

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Onder’s students make, package and deliver thank-you bags to substitute teachers at Roosevelt every day school’s in session.

Some days there’s been as many as seven substitutes, including paraprofessionals, in the school, and other days, there haven’t been any, but regardless of how many times an individual has subbed at the school, they receive a thank-you bag.

“We really are thankful that people choose us here at Roosevelt,” Onder said. “We think it’s a pretty good place to be.”

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Roosevelt Elementary students Nora Cooper, center, and her sister, Autumn, right, deliver a "sub bag" to substitute teacher Cathy McMurray.

In addition to making teachers and paraprofessionals feel welcome and appreciated at the school, Onder said the project helps her students improve their fine motor, numeracy and social skills.

She said the students will continue making the thank-you bags until the end of the school year, but she’s unsure what will happen when the project’s funds are depleted.

“When we have highly qualified people in here even when the teacher can’t be, it means our kids are going to have a good day, they’re going to get good instruction,” Onder said. “We’re just thankful people come.”

Photos: Brooke Onder's class at Roosevelt Elementary

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Reach Reporter Ashley Stewart at 641-421-0533. Follow her on Twitter at GGastewart.

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