With the current push for college and career readiness in education and the increasing standards in academics, it is important not to forget the other important things we are trying to instill in our students. One such thing is the responsibility we have to be loving and kind to our community. Our students this year have been spending time thinking of ways to give back to our community.
Eighth-grade students in Mrs. Mitchener's classes have been busy making ceramic bowls for the annual Empty Bowls sale to benefit St. Susan Center of Jamestown. Students spend time prior to creating the bowl discussing the epidemic of hunger in our society and the ways we can help to prevent hunger in our own community. These students have been very excited at the opportunity to use their art for a good cause. This year, the bowls are being sold in stages. During the month of December, eighth-grade handmade bowls were on sale in the middle school main hall. We had many people purchase them for the holidays. Additionally, bowls will be sold in collaboration with Mrs. Brown's high school art classes at the High School Lawn Social in May with all the proceeds going to St. Susan Center.
Also in December, students in Mrs. Brown's and Mrs. Mitchener's art classes created hand-painted gifts for the residents of Emeritus of Lakewood and spent time delivering them by foot. These students glazed food-safe coffee mugs for more than 60 people. Once completed, the mugs were filled with candy canes and hot cocoa packets then wrapped in festive paper with ribbons. Students were greeted with treats and smiles from both the residents and staff at Emeritus. Many of the students noted how wonderful it felt to bring smiles to the faces of their elders.
Besides this, the Middle School Student Council has organized various fundraising events this year, as well. This fall we had a popcorn sale. Bags of popcorn were sold for $1, and students raised $150 to be donated to a local charity decided by Student Council. Right now, we are in the middle of the Pennies for Patients campaign. It is to help raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, the world's largest voluntary health organization dedicated to funding blood cancer research. In the past, SWMS has been able to raise more than $1,000 to help the cause; we hope to do that again this year. This year we have set up an online fundraising website for parents, family members, staff and students to make a donation by credit card via a secure network. www.schoolandyouth.org. Student Council also plans to have a sock drive during this month. The collected sock donations will be given to St. Susan Center to help the less fortunate during these cold winter days.
Another aspect of community involvement and especially "giving back" is at the culmination of Mrs. Imfeld's eighth graders' career unit. The classes become entrepreneurs. They create a business, apply for jobs and manage the business. Any profits are donated to charities of the students' choosing. Recently, students used the theme of Duck Dynasty selling snacks shaped like beards and fishing poles alongside some refreshing Si iced tea. Their business was "The Quack Factory." They creatively sold sandwiches, cotton candy, candy made fishing poles, chocolate covered cocoa puffs, and frozen ice tea and grape drinks.
Over the years we have donated thousands of dollars. Some favorite charities given to over the years include: The Humane Society, local families in need, The Red Cross, various soup kitchens, March of Dimes, cancer research, victims of 9/11 and Katrina, Make a Wish Foundation, The Safe House of Chautauqua County, The Salvation Army, Infinity Performing Arts, Little Theatre, New Leash on Life, Tanglewood, Shriner's Hospitals, International Medical Corps. and The Wounded Warrior Project.
There are many things in life we can teach our youth. A loving heart and a willingness to give are among those that will take them the furthest in life. It's exciting to see the students using their artwork, cooking skills and creativity for such great causes.