Schools, with help from the community, spearhead holiday projects to provide for Basin families
Schools in the Klamath County School District, with the help of community organizations and generous anonymous donors, were able this holiday season to provide hundreds of pounds of food and more than 200-holiday meal baskets as well as gifts, specialty items, and new clothing for area families.
“It can be a difficult time of year for those less fortunate, and it is impressive how those in the Klamath Basin reach out to make the holidays special for everyone,” said Glen Szymoniak, superintendent of the Klamath County School District. “We are all blessed to have such a caring community.”
Most of the community service projects were spearheaded by leadership students and school clubs. And many used the giving season to thank organizations, businesses, and community members who provide ongoing support for their students and programs.
Henley High School students spent time last week sorting boxes of food at the Klamath-Lake Counties Food Bank.
“Helping the food bank was added this year as a small gesture of thanks for the support they provide to our Henley Hunger Not Impossible program, which feeds food-insecure teens over the summer,” said Henley teacher Bobbie Sue Britton, advisor of the school’s leadership program.
At Lost River Junior-Senior High School, honored citizens – seniors with strong ties to the community and school — were invited to a special luncheon hosted by leadership students.
In Merrill, elementary school students thanked area businesses and community members by creating and signing handmade cards and handing out boxes of cookies. “They get hit for every fundraiser, and every time they give,” said Melissa Heaton of the Merrill PTA, who helped organize the project. “We’re blessed to live in such a close-knit community.”
In Gilchrist, an annual class food drive competition collected 1,192 food items for the Northern County Christmas Basket Association. Peterson Elementary School, through its food pantry, provided 50 families with food, and Shasta Elementary School students collected 2,110 pairs of new socks for the Klamath Falls Gospel Mission.
Among the projects this season:
Help for Hospice: Mazama High School leadership students worked with sponsors and Klamath Hospice to put together and deliver 60-holiday bags for hospice patients and their families. The bags included ready-to-eat meals and drinks, comfort items, puzzle books, and other items to help make the patient and their family members feel more comfortable during the holidays.
Mazama leadership student Abigail Mead knows the project makes a difference. Her grandfather was under the care of hospice, and Mead experienced firsthand how difficult it is for family caregivers.
“I personally love doing this. I know how hard it is for those families,” she said. “This is just a great way to give back to our community.”
The annual project, which overall cost around $1,600, is supported by the Apple Pie Gang, an anonymous group of community members who started the hospice bag project, said Mazama teacher Kristi Sturgeon, who advises Mazama’s student government and leadership students.
‘The Giving Tree:’ Henley High School’s “The Giving Tree” this year provided gifts to 27 youth, 10 complete holiday dinner baskets for families, and filled the school’s food pantry. Students and staff chose tags from the tree and then donated those items to the project.
Henley’s teacher and coach Shannon Carlson and her Henley girls’ basketball team also collected food and organized additional 10-holiday meal baskets, and the team delivered all 20 baskets to families this week.
Bonanza giving: Through fund-raising efforts and generous community donations, Bonanza Junior-Senior High School leadership students were able to provide 15 complete holiday meal baskets as well as new clothing and gifts to community families and youth. And Bonanza Elementary School students in the week before the holidays collected 766 cans and boxes of food.
The leadership class raised $400 with an ornament giving tree during the school’s bazaar. The $400, in addition to a $1,200 cash donation from Living Springs Fellowship Church, was used by student leadership to purchase needed items. The elementary school, with the help of Northwest Farm Credit Services and Bonanza Cares, was able to donate an additional 12 food boxes to area families.
“In Bonanza, we have a lot of people pitching in,” said Jordan Osborn, principal of Bonanza Junior-Senior High School.
This is the first year Bonanza leadership students have spearheaded holiday giving. Among their projects are a school food pantry and clothing closet. In addition to food and clothing, they also were able to provide gift cards to those who needed them.
“I think it kind of opened our eyes that there are people who are close to us who are in need,” said Madelyn Bloom, a Bonanza senior and leadership student. “It’s nice to know we’re helping our community.”
All about kindness: Students in Mazama High School’s Kindness Club and Service Learning Class, with the help of fundraisers and generous community donations, put together and delivered 21-holiday food boxes for families in need this season.
They also “adopted” five families for the holidays, providing food, gifts, and other needed items. Students also were able to buy food to stock the Mazama Boutique, the school’s food, and clothing pantry. Students raised needed funds through a raffle. Pork for the holiday food boxes was donated by Cal-Ore Communications, and potatoes were provided by an anonymous donor.
“The kids have done quite a bit but they want to keep it quiet for the most part,” said Mazama teacher Stephanie Harris, who advises the Kindness Club and teaches the Learning Service class. “We have had so much help from our community in all of our endeavors. We are so thankful for our amazing community.”
Gifts and turkeys from Lost River: This season, Lost River Junior-Senior High School leadership students collected more than 800 items, including turkeys, rolls and roasting pans, to fill 20 food boxes for Malin and Merrill families. Students also donated clothing and clothing vouchers, and the school’s student leadership distributed the vouchers and clothing as well as gift cards donated by community members and organizations to families in Malin and Merrill.
Help in Chiloquin: More than 75 families in the Chiloquin area were provided with holiday meal baskets and more than 30 youth were able to purchase needed new clothing thanks to generous community donations and the work of students and staff at Chiloquin Junior-Senior High School and Chiloquin Elementary School.
“This was all made possible by generous anonymous donations from our community,” said Scott Preston, principal at Chiloquin Junior-Senior High School.
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