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Students Make a Difference Locally
By Amy Oberlin
The Herald Republican
Julie Clary's second grade class made a difference this school year.
Last Friday, the children culminated their “Changing the World” service project by dropping off books and games for those staying at Steuben County’s homeless shelter, Turning Point, on Williams Street in Angola. A $250 grant was awarded through generationOn Indiana, facilitated by the Indiana Association of School Principals and the Indiana Middle Level Education Association to be used to support Clary’s 25 students’ service-learning project.
This is the second year for Clary's classwide community project. Last year's class focus was "Kindness in the Community."
This year, students pulled invasive garlic mustard at Pokagon State Park, read to residents at Northern Lakes Rehabilitation Center for about an hour and also visited RISE, which employs and trains handicapped workers. They also visited Cameron Woods Senior Living Facility and the Humane Shelter.
"First we conducted a classroom community 'blue sky' activity to determine our target area. The majority of concern was on people having a safe place to live." said Clary. "A classmate in our room had just recently experienced a home fire, and students had reached out with donations of their own games and toys to help their friend."
In researching area nonprofits through the Steuben County Community Foundation web page, students discovered Turning Point.
"Shannon Hentzell, from Turning Point, visited our classroom and talked with the children about the shelter, its mission, its goals, and its needs," said Clary. The children decided they wanted to reach out to children at Turning Point and provide games and books for the new family wing.
The children divided into four groups: finance, advertising, inventory and correspondence. Letters were written, posters were made, and money was allocated.
Students bought 75 new books from the Ryan Park PTO Scholastic Book Fair for Turning Point's temporary residents. Meanwhile a book, puzzle and game drive was underway in the second-grade pod at Ryan Park. As the donated items piled up, the children would inspect them for quality and label them for the shelter.
"When it came time to plan our visit to Turning Point, the children decided they want to give more. A recent experience with our Junior Achievement volunteer Jennifer Danic opened their eyes to more ways to make a community grow. People can give time and talent, as well as treasure. So we started brainstorming ways to give time and talent.
So, along with making their donations, they traveled to the park, senior living homes and the community foundation, where they received a $100 grant.
Amy Oberlin is a Herald Republican reporter who can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org