They brought gifts of clothing, food and holiday cheer.
And along with their service came the vital lessons on giving and the high marks of jobs well done.
In the weeks leading to the holiday break, Midlands area schools demonstrated the true meaning of the season with a variety of outreach efforts that targeted the poor, the homeless, the military and many others in the community.
A sampling of some of the activities:
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Richland 2’s five high schools held student-led service projects that encouraged students to explore, understand and address community needs. The students celebrated the various acts of service during several school-wide pep rallies in recent weeks.
Spring Valley High offered a helping hand to several community agencies as students collected $5,500 for the Children’s Garden and $1,000 for Changing Hearts. Both agencies provide services to homeless families. Students also collected 20,000 canned goods, 3,700 toys, 1,500 blankets and other warm items for the area’s needy as well as 830 personal care bags for the homeless, and 750 children’s books for foster children.
Meanwhile, Spring Valley High student Grace Smith prepared 61 hand-knitted hats and gave them to Family Connection of South Carolina to help support the families of children with special health care needs. The items are being given to newborns in the neonatal intensive care unit at Palmetto Health Children’s Hospital.
Smith spent more than 150 hours knitting the hats that are being distributed during the holidays.
“It makes me really happy to know we can make the families happy,” Grace said.
At Ridge View High, students collected 15,000 non-perishable goods to benefit local charities including God’s Storehouse. The school plans to sponsor 65 foster children from the S.C. Department of Social Services and raise $1,500 for Harvest Hope Food Bank.
Blythewood High students collected 2,600 new and gently used books for Palmetto Health Children’s Hospital’s “Reach-Out-and-Read-Program.” Students also collected 20,000 canned goods and non-perishable food items for God’s Storehouse, and 200 stuffed stockings for the James R. Clark Sickle Cell Foundation. The school works with DSS to sponsor more than 100 foster children.
Richland Northeast High collected food for the hungry families, coats and personal hygiene items for the homeless, and toys for the Palmetto Children’s Hospital Cancer and Blood Disorders Clinic. The school partnered with the Palmetto Project’s Families Helping Families program to adopt more than 180 people.
Westwood High collected canned goods for Harvest Hope Food Bank while student clubs and organizations collected toys for The Giving Tree, helped the Salvation Army prepare Christmas packages and supplied toiletry bags for Hannah House. Westwood held its first blood drive for the American Red Cross in memory of Jeanne Schmidt, the wife of principal Ralph Schmidt, who died earlier this year.
Lexington 1 students joined the Lexington County Sheriff’s Department for this year’s Socks to Sole Drive. The groups collected new, unwrapped socks for children undergoing cancer treatment at Palmetto Health Children’s Hospital. Those receiving such treatment often experience cold feet.
Richland 1 students joined the Five Points Chick-fil-A in a fundraiser for homeless students and families in the district. For a portion of the month, a percentage of the restaurant’s catering proceeds went to the district’s homeless initiative as well as portions of in-store sales when customers mentioned Richland 1.
Nine Lexington-Richland 5 schools created and sent more than 1,000 holiday cards to military members as part of the American Red Cross Holiday Mail for Heroes program. Since 2006 more than 4 million holiday cards have been delivered to members of the armed forces through the outreach.
Participating Lexington-Richland 5 schools included Ballentine, Chapin, H. E. Corley, Irmo, Lake Murray and Oak Pointe elementary schools, Chapin and Irmo middle schools and Irmo High.
While helping the students show their support of the military, the project also was intended to help them understand the sacrifices of the military and the importance of service to others.
Students in Lexington-Richland 5’s Math Matters classes wrapped up a semester-long learning service effort during which they designed, constructed and sold clocks to benefit St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital and the district’s Back Pack Program, which provides food for students in need over the weekend.
The effort generated more than $2,000 for the two charities.
Students in the Kershaw County School District collected more than $11,000 for area charities as part of the district’s Holiday Hopes program.
The benefitting charities included Palmetto Health Children’s Hospital, Make a Wish Foundation, Community Christian Ministries, Mt. Moriah Soup Kitchen and Lugoff First Baptist Angel Tree.
The donations also were used to buy a heater for a student in the district and to help pay the family’s utility bill.