During this season of giving, we looked at nine local schools or districts that are giving back – and how they're doing it.
1. Springmyer Elementary School (Oak Hills Local Schools)
While many schools participate in service projects centered on the holidays in November and December, students at Springmyer Elementary started outreach efforts as early as October. For the past several years, students at the school have collected pumpkins, which are given to students at St. Joseph Orphanage to decorate for Halloween. This year, Springmyer students collected more than 200 pumpkins.
2. Monroe Local Schools
Monroe Local Schools for the 15th year in a row will continue a tradition of helping families within their school community through their annual Gifts from the Heart program. Primary and elementary school students donate food items assigned by grade level, while junior high and high school students make monetary donations. The monetary donations are used to purchase plastic tubs to pack the food in as well as grocery store gift cards.
National Junior Honor Society, National Honor Society and Student Council members pack the food and gift cards into the tubs, which are then given to families in the community who are in need. The program, which benefits an average of nearly 40 families a year, is open to any family in the district who fills out and returns an assistance request form by an established deadline.
3. Waynesville High School (Wayne Local Schools)
More than 30 Waynesville High School Class of 2019 members committed to filling boxes for Operation Christmas Child. The project is part of a national effort by humanitarian aid organization Samaritan’s Purse. For their part, the Waynesville High students agreed to meet the goal of filling 100 boxes with supplies to meet the basic needs of children around the world. The supplies, which are received as gifts by the children in need, include things like toothbrushes, stuffed animals, pencils, notebooks and washcloths. The sophomores who took on the commitment locally have made the project a community-wide effort, creating posters and reaching out to fellow students and area businesses for donations.
4. Miller Ridge Elementary School (Middletown City Schools)
Miller Ridge Elementary is partnering with Middletown’s Pristine Senior Living Center for a service learning experience that brings holiday cheer to the elderly. Kindergarten and first-grade students will be making crafts and drawing holiday pictures for residents, while second- and third-graders will be making holiday cards. Some fourth- and fifth-grade students will visit the senior living center Dec. 7 to read with residents.
5. Lebanon Junior High and High School (Lebanon City Schools)
Lebanon students will participate in an Answer the Call to Serve initiative by filling a trailer with non-perishable food items for the Lebanon Food Pantry. Lebanon Junior High and High School students will compete within their homerooms to see who can bring in the most donations. The top three classes will receive three dozen doughnuts provided by the athletic department paid for through the athletic director’s booster fund.
6. Kings Local Schools
Kings students and their families have the opportunity to brighten the holidays for families in their community by providing gifts for those in need through the KingsUKnights program. Individuals and groups wishing to help are matched with families to sponsor. The families have been referred for the program by themselves, guidance counselors, local churches or community organizations. Sponsors provide three unwrapped gifts for each child in a family. The gifts are given to the parents in need, along with wrapping paper and tape, allowing them to take ownership by wrapping the gifts for their children. Students and families who want to help but are unable to sponsor a family can help by donating blankets, gift cards or wrapping paper and tape.
7. Ridgeway Elementary School (Hamilton City Schools) and Madeira Middle School (Madeira City Schools)
Ridgeway Elementary recently hosted an Empty Bowls luncheon, and Madeira Middle School will host an Empty Bowls dinner Dec. 2. While the events vary slightly from school to school, students typically serve a meal for individuals and families in exchange for a donation of $5 to $10. The proceeds from the events go to community organizations that fight poverty, homelessness and hunger. After the meal, diners get to select and take home bowls painted and glazed by students prior to the event, as a reminder of those in poverty.
8. Lakota East High School/Greater Miami Conference schools
All 10 schools in the GMC Conference are participating in No-Shave November fundraisers. Male students and staff members sponsor themselves or accept sponsorships from others for growing out their facial hair throughout the month of November.
Each school donates the money raised to their own selected cause or charity. For Lakota East, that donation typically goes toward cancer research through the Susan G. Komen Foundation. However, the money raised this year by students at Lakota East and many other GMC schools will benefit the family of Joe Bertram, who passed away from cancer in October. Bertram was assistant principal of Colerain High School and a former student of Lakota East High School Athletic Director Richard Bryant.
9. Elda Elementary School (Ross Local Schools)
Elda Elementary leaders make a point to continue outreach efforts throughout the year, not just during the holiday season. The school’s PTO (parent-teacher organization) this January will host its second annual “sock hop” dance. The event last year brought in more than $300 worth of new socks and underwear, which were donated to local churches via Ross and Morgan Ministries (R.A.M.M.).
The week leading up to the event, students can vote on a pair of “crazy socks” for Principal Jesse Kohls to wear by placing new socks in baskets under one of three options. Kohls will wear the winning pair of socks during the dance, and students are encouraged to dress as they would for a 1950s sock hop. Proceeds from refreshment sales and a photo booth are used to purchase new socks and underwear to donate to R.A.M.M. along with the socks collected the week leading up to the dance.