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THE SPIRIT OF GIVING <br> KIDS WHO SHOW THEIR GENEROUS SIDE, JUST IN TIME FOR THE HOLIDAYS

There's an empty spot on a shelf in Jayson Kleinfelder's room. It's the place where his 1993 Buffalo Bills football, signed by many team players, once rested.

A couple of weeks ago the 13-year-old and his mother were listening to radio station 97 Rock when they heard that an auction would be held Dec. 13 to raise money for needy children.

"My mom brought up the idea of donating the football," said Jayson, an eighth-grader at Charles R. Drew Science Magnet-Zoo Component. "And I said it was OK."

Jayson won the football four years ago in a charity raffle held to raise money for a sick child.

This time it brought in $1,000, helping organizers in part to buy toys and bikes for about 450 children who were invited to a party at Erie Community College City Campus, which Jayson also attended.

As for the loss of the football?

"I just thought about the things it brought for the other kids," said Jayson, whose teacher Moira Kelly told The Buffalo News what he had done.

She and other teachers, as well as other groups, were asked by The News to tell us about acts of generosity on the part of children -- those who reach out not to get, but to give.

There was a heartwarming response. From leaders, we heard about four Girl Scout troops in the Niagara Frontier Service Unit who decorated shoe boxes and collected gifts to be passed out by Hearts for the Homeless. And the 400 Depew Girl Scouts who each bought an ornament, and then collected money for tree skirts, garlands, stands and lights so that families can enjoy decorated trees for many years.

And there's 9-year-old Molly Norton, who found a $100 bill at a Santa Fe, N.M., bank. The story of her generosity made it all the way back to Buffalo.

At first Molly thought it was a prank, she told her mother, Katie Jebb Norton, a Nardin Academy graduate. When the unclaimed money became Molly's, she mulled over endless ways she could spend it, including buying Josefina, the latest in the American Girls doll collection.

But instead of getting the doll for herself, she decided to buy it for a girl "who was sick and would like Josefina as a friend." That girl was Candace Trujillo, a 7-year-old who has osteogenesis imperfecta (brittle bone disease), which causes her bones to break easily.

Molly's spontaneous act caught the attention of the media and she was deluged with attention.

"It was really fun to be on TV the first day, but the second and third day were kind of hard," said Molly, whose grandmother Bibber Jebb lives in Buffalo.

As an unexpected bonus, the Pleasant Co., manufacturers of the American Girls dolls, sent a Josefina doll to Molly.

"I didn't know any of this would happen," said Molly, who was interviewed by phone. "I thought I'd give the doll to her and we'd talk a little and just go back home."

Her reaction to the whole event?

"It was really nice," she said, "but it didn't need this much attention."

That, in fact, is what others say who only want to make Christmas brighter for someone else.

Among them is Christopher Shanahan, 16, a junior at Hutchinson-Central Technical High School, who collected $49 from his class for a family affected by cancer. It was part of a school project.

"I didn't get quite as much as I thought I would," said Chris.

So he asked his family and employees at the Buffalo Candle Outlet, where he works, if they wanted to donate to a 4-year-old girl and her grandfather.

"He came in with 19 presents for the little girl and seven for her grandfather," said Marjorie Linhardt, an English teacher. Included were Arthur and Barbie dolls, pajamas, toys and a sweater and shirt, which Chris and his sister had shopped for.

"It was like the loaves and fishes," said Ms. Linhardt.

Chris is low-key about what he did, saying: "I just thought it would be better if we could have more things. I really didn't do anything. I just kind of got people together."

Jennifer Butler, 13, and her brother Jeremy, who turns 12 today, agreed with a proposal by their father, Alan Butler, to donate the money he would have spent on their Christmas presents to the SIDS Foundation in their names.

"My dad has a friend whose infant died of this disease," said Jennifer, who attends Depew Middle School. "He thought it would be a good idea to donate the money and we thought it would be a good idea, too."

Butler said he made it "entirely their decision."

"They kept reaffirming that they wanted to do it and said it would give them a good feeling," he said.

Rather than money, sometimes the gift takes the form of time, energy and creativity.

That was the case of Murphy Cotton IV, an 11-year-old boy who lost one foot and part of another in a train accident in April. Murphy was among four Children's Hospital patients who drew designs for ties -- his is called "Sneakers" -- that are being sold to benefit the hospital.

"He spent a whole day talking to the media and making appearances to kick off the campaign," said John Moscato, the hospital's communications specialist. "He and his family are very dedicated to helping the hospital."

Space doesn't allow for all the acts of concern in the community, but as one example there were 15 teen-agers from Nardin Academy, D'Youville College, St. Bonaventure University and Lackawanna Middle and High schools, who served sit-down dinners to 200 people affected by AIDS.

"They gave up a Friday night and they worked like dogs," said the Rev. GeriLyon, director of pastoral care for AIDS Family Services. "We absolutely couldn't have done it without them."

The giving spirit that so many feel at Christmas is promoted year-round at Buffalo's Community School 53. Every other week, students walk to the Deaconess Skilled Nursing Facility, where they read to patients. Last week they sang carols.

Also, they baked cookies and made ornaments through their Friend-to-Friend program with people at the 1490 Jefferson Senior Center.

For the new year, the children are developing a wish list in conjunction with a COPS (Community Oriented Police Satellite) station, according to Allison Barron, a reading specialist at the school.

"The police will work with them on making their wishes come true," said Ms. Barron.

The wishes, though, aren't for things for themselves, she said. Rather, they're for improvements to benefit the community, such as cleaning up a vacant lot or closing a crack house.

"I always say that working with these children is better than going to church," said Ms. Barron.