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Students and staff at Blue Mountain Seventh-day Adventist Elementary are lending a helping hand through donations to several organizations.
In conjunction with the Helping Hand program, each month students at the school in Hamburg are encouraged to donate items for a specific organization or group following a presentation from a representative of the specific association.
So far, within the first two months of the school year, student donations went toward an animal shelter in Kutztown and to American troops stationed in Afghanistan. Craig Johnson, husband of Pre-Kindergarten teacher Linda Johnson, gave a presentation at the school for the October donation that went to the troops.
He spent time in Iraq as a soldier in 2003 and brought all of his gear, along with pictures and artifacts from his time overseas, to the presentation for the students. His goal was “to show them what life was like when I was there in ’03 and then how it has changed over the years.”
Johnson said the donations, which consist of such items as magazines, books, movies, CD players, snacks, and personal items such as shaving cream and toothbrushes, are going to three people whom he served with in the Middle East. These individuals will then distribute the goods among the soldiers.
Prior to the donation for the troops, during the month of September students collected pet food and supplies for an animal shelter in Kutztown. Some workers at the school brought their personal pets to the school for a presentation in advance the drive for donations.
According to Johnson, each month school principal Rachel Wardecke, who implemented the Helping Hand program at the school this year, has someone come to the building and speak to the children about the program or organization to which the students will donate. Then, at the end of the donation period, a representative from the group upon which the goods are bestowed returns to the school to receive the contributions.
The elementary school normally performs some sort of fundraiser each year, according to Johnson, but he said this year Wardecke decided to follow the Helping Hand program to show the kids “how fulfilling it is to help the community.”
Two more upcoming projects planned for the community involve a collection for a food bank and a donation of stuffed animals for ambulance crews. Stuffed animals are given to children when they are in an ambulance in order to help comfort the kids.
“They do a lot of things but I don’ think the community’s aware of all the things they do,” said Johnson, of the school’s outreach efforts. “And that’s why I’m trying to show the community that this school, even though it’s private they’re still helping the community out.”