Call it real-life application of multiplication. Or how about exponential potential?

For the second year in a row, Angie Bertrand’s fifth-grade math students turned a little money into a lot more, and learned a few “feel good” lessons about helping others.

Last week the 21 fifth-graders bought about $650 worth of toys and gifts to donate to the Toys for Kids program.

Where did they get the $650? Well, that’s the exponential part. In November, the class won $50 for the art project they submitted to the Texas State Pecan Festival. With their $50 of prize money, Bertrand said, the class bought Christmas ornaments and sold them.

Their sales netted $350. To the $350, Wal-Mart added $100, and, said Bertrand, the faculty and staff at Early Elementary took up a collection and added an additional $200. That brought the class total to $650, which divided by 21 came to approximately $31 a piece.

On Dec. 14, the class took a field trip to Wal-Mart, where each student was assigned to purchase a gifts or toys for a child his or her age — spending as much of the $31 as possible.

Their shopping trip complete, The students and teachers took a school bus ride with their purchases to the Toys for Kids headquarters, 2325 Belle Plain.

There, they gleefully unloaded their purchases.

The students purchases included several skate boards, basketballs, footballs and recreational balls, clothes, stuffed animals, art supplies, games and puzzles.

“We told them to shop for someone their own age,” Bertrand said, “and I think they really enjoyed that. Also, their age can be a difficult age to shop for, so we had expert shoppers.

“This has been a fun project for the kids, but they’ve learned a lot too. The idea of making $50 grow to an amount much larger is a valuable lesson, but also, the idea of giving the kids a chance to ‘give’ to other children who might not have as much as they do is an important one,” Bertrand said.

“But the kids have been great. They’ve really taken this project and made it their own.”