Students become teachers when lesson turns to acts of kindness

Students become teachers when lesson turns to acts of kindness

Ruth Hines, right, got a visit and presents from Avery Harper, vice president of the South Lenoir High School FFA chapter, when the chapter ‘adopted’ senior citizens in the community as its Christmas project. Patrick Holmes / Lenoir County Public Schools

Of all the lessons students learn in school, among the most important are lessons about living in this world, about relating to each other, showing respect and responding with empathy. This time of year particularly, students embrace opportunities to be kind and generous, encouraged by teachers dedicated to developing good hearts as well as good minds.

Here are some examples of acts of kindness undertaken by LCPS schools and students this Christmas season:

At South Lenoir High School, the FFA chapter began planning this summer for a project focused on elderly members of the community. This month FFA students adopted four senior citizens and prepared gift baskets as Christmas presents. After the groups shopped for their “adopted” senior, they went out in groups and made their deliveries. “This was a great experience not only to give gifts but the members were able to develop a new respect for members of our community by enjoying visiting and talking with them,” chapter adviser David Whaley said.

Also at South Lenoir, Apparel II students used fabric donated by HorseWares to construct 60 stockings for residents ofLenoir Assisted Living in Pink Hill and 100 stockings for the Veterans Home in Kinston. Students made the pattern and cut and sewed the stockings. Donations from HOSA, TSA, FBLA, SGA and several teachers/faculty members were used to fill the stockings. Items included oranges, candy, snacks, pencils/pens, hand sanitizer, hot cocoa mix, playing cards, lip balm and tissues. “The students had a great time delivering the stockings and it appeared that the recipients were pleased with the surprise,” teacher Lesli Casey said.

South Lenoir Service Club is providing holiday meals to the needy through its Feed A Family project. Contributions of food items like a frozen turkey or ham, boxed stuffing and canned corn are combined to make a meal and distributed to those who might otherwise go without. “The club has made the goal of providing a holiday meal to 16 needy South Lenoir families this holiday season,” adviser Gregory Lentine said.

At La Grange Elementary School, students, parents, and staff contributed to the annual food drive to create “The Giving Tree.” Boxes were covered in green paper and students colored paper ornaments to decorate the boxes for the food donations. The tree was created as the boxes were filled with donations. In all, 1,344 items were collected. Donations went to the First Missionary Baptist Church of La Grange, which sponsors the school’s weekend food program and the community food pantry. “The school greatly appreciates all who contributed to the food drive,” school counselor Elaine Yarbrough said. “These donations will help many in our community.”

For more than 20 years, Banks Elementary School has partnered with Lenoir County Friends of the Homeless in its own Giving Tree tradition. Banks teachers told students that instead of a gift for Christmas they would graciously accept a donation to the homeless shelter in their honor. Between Thanksgiving and Christmas, students eagerly brought in a variety of items for donation, symbolized by ornaments on the school’s Giving Tree in the media center. Each year, Jasper Mewborn of Lenoir County Friends of the Homeless picks up the items and meets with Banks students to discuss the importance of their contributions.

At E.B. Frink Middle School, the SGA led a canned food drive, collecting more than 2,000 cans and other nonperishable food items for donation to local food pantries.

Also at Frink, cheerleaders provided more than 40 “Boxes of Cheer” to students at schools that feed into Frink. Each box was personalized with the child’s favorite color, toy, book and superheroes. “Through the project, the girls experience the true meaning of what it means to ‘give versus receive,’” cheer squad adviser and Frink teacher LaPorscha Gardner said.

At North Lenoir High School, the staff provided Christmas for the family of Billy Wright, a faculty member who has been sidelined by illness. Students also raised more than $350 for the family and sent more than 500 cards get-well cards.

Students and staff at Southeast, Southwood, Northwest elementary schools teamed up with Spring Arbor assisted living center in Kinston to collect food items for donation to Mary’s Kitchen. The more than 8,000 items collected at Spring Arbor is the largest single donation ever to Mary’s Kitchen.

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