What should Sanford look like in ten years?
What about your community would you like to stay the same?
What should change?
These may be thought-provoking questions for Junior High Students, but by starting out this year’s Jumpstart Our Youth work at Sanford Junior High School with this “Blue-Sky” activity, Project Reach Specialist Tara Houle helped her students articulate community challenges and priorities for addressing them. Two challenges that students put at the top of the “blue sky” list were poverty and hunger, and the next logical step was to research the local nonprofit organizations that addressed those issues and volunteer to get involved.
Ms. Houle invited Lieutenant Jose of the Sanford area Salvation Army to present to her students who were impressed by the scale of service offered locally and by the number of families served. Immediately, the students organized a Thanksgiving food drive followed shortly by a Christmas holiday food drive to stock the Salvation Army’s food pantry.
As the Christmas holiday approached, Mrs. Houle’s students served Salvation Army clients at the center by handing out toys and food and wishing them happy holidays. Despite being drenched by soaking rain as the students delivered food to clients’ cars, the day was a big hit. “My favorite part was handing out the bags of food to people because it was food we had donated from our school-wide holiday food drive,” said Joseph P.
“And it made me feel good giving to local Sanford people,” adds Andrew L.
And for Mikayla G., seeing first-hand a client’s overwhelmed tears of gratitude reinforced more than anything else how important and rewarding volunteering can be.
As the students begin their grantmaking, Mrs. Houle predicts that the students will draw upon their volunteer experience throughout the process.