Souper Bowl of Caring
When I was president of NHS at Spring Valley High (SC), we participated in the Souper Bowl of Caring. (www.souperbowl.org ) In the week before the Super Bowl game we held a canned food and money drive, and donated our collections to a local Food Bank. We took our donations there on the Saturday before the Super Bowl, and spent the morning working there to sort all of the donations that they had received that day as a part of the Service Blitz. It is an important time of year for Food Banks to receive donations, because after a big push for giving during the holiday season, they receive very few donations in January. It was also a good event for our chapter to get back into service at the beginning of the spring semester.
The National Honor Society at J.W. Mitchell High (FL) sponsored an all-day school-wide Community Service Fair in the Media Center.
We invited community organizations and non-profit groups to set up booths in the Media Center to inform students about volunteer opportunities in our area. Students must have volunteer hours to qualify for Bright Futures Scholarships, and to qualify for membership in NHS and other service clubs on campus. Of course, the benefit of volunteering goes far beyond just that.
More than 1,000 students visited the fair with their social studies and life management teachers. Students walked throughout the center and visited any table of interest to them. Twenty organizations participated, including the American Red Cross, Habitat for Humanity, Hospice, Healthy Start, and the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life. In addition, four service clubs on campus, including NHS, had booths set up to provide students with more information about membership. Our career specialist was also on hand to answer questions about community service hours needed for college applications.
Ninety-eight percent of students surveyed said that the Community Service Fair encouraged them to volunteer. The organizations reported that more than 700 students signed up for future community service projects. (Posted 12.05)
Freshmen Buddy System
At the open house for incoming freshmen, National Honor Society members at Enloe HS in Raleigh, NC, had a sign-up for freshmen who were interested in having an NHS buddy to help them make the transition to the high school. NHS sponsored a party just before school started at which they played some get-to-know-you games and paired up interested freshmen with an NHS member. After the party it was left to the individual members to keep in contact with their freshman buddy.
Bringing Them Up
The members of the NJHS Chapter at John F. Kennedy MS in Southington, CT, help incoming students' first days of school more familiar by reaching out to them while they are still in elementary school.
Before school begins, the NJHS members send letters to the fifth graders inviting them to a mini-open house. They give students a tour of the building and provide written information about the school, teams, room numbers, and spirit wear.
School Supply Drive
National Honor Society members at St. Augustine HS in Laredo, TX, sponsor a school supply drive at the beginning of the year to collect pens, pencils, scissors, paper, and so forth. The supplies are then donated to a school in an impoverished neighborhood.
Sign On, Live On
Teaming with the American Red Cross, the NHS chapter at Carlton (MN) HS organized a program to increase awareness of the importance of organ and tissue donation, Sign On, Live On (SOLO). The project featured an assembly at which community members and other speakers presented various perspectives on organ and tissue donation including speakers who were in need of a transplant, those who had received transplants, and family members of those who had donated. Red Cross representatives also spoke. "It was a very touching assembly and I think many decided to tell their families of their wishes to donate organs," said Katie Wagman, NHS member.
Right Attitudes Make Success
Eighth grade students at Rapid Run MS in Cincinnati, OH, visit sixth grade classes to teach lessons about tolerance, bullying, respect, and responsibility in their Right Attitudes Make Success (RAMS) program. They also play games, watch movies, and brainstorm ways to make the school a better place.
Hitting the Books for Charity
The National Honor Society at Elk Grove High School in Arlington Heights, IL, sponsors an annual NHS Read-A-Thon to benefit Juvenile Diabetes. This schoolwide fund-raising activity encourages students to read, raises needed funds to help researchers, and provides an opportunity for students to earn Service Learning hours of credit.
Students collect pledges, read in the library for two hours after school, and later return to collect the donations. The event is open to all EGHS students, not only NHS members. The Greater Chicago Chapter of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation presented the Elk Grove NHS with a Golden Sneaker Award, in recognition of the $1,100 that was raised through the event last year. A total of approximately $11,000 has been raised for Juvenile Diabetes by Elk Grove's Read-A-Thon over the past 11 years.
Rolling Out the Welcome Mat
Some people just know how to make someone feel at home. When the parents of one freshman at Germantown HS in Memphis, TN, realized that their son probably wasn't the only student new to the area, they asked the principal for the names and phone numbers for all the high school students who had recently moved to the area. They invited the students and their parents to a pizza party at their house before the first day of school and gave them an opportunity to meet their classmates before walking into the classroom. The party was a rousing success. The next Monday every new student had someone they could eat lunch with and laugh with.
Welcome to My Home
One crisp November night each year, the football field at Lake Hamilton HS in Pearcy, AR, takes on new shape and new meaning, as the students hunker down in cardboard boxes, protected from the chilly night air by a coat and a blanket.
All of the Lake Hamilton clubs participate in this annual "Welcome to My Home" event, which raises awareness of the plight of the homeless. Prior to the evening, students collect boxes to sleep in during the event, which lasts from 5:00 p.m. to 10:00 a.m. Students are allowed to bring only a coat and a blanket-nothing else-to the event. The only food the students are allowed to eat is a bowl of chicken soup at 6:00 a.m. When the event is over, the coats and blankets, as well as canned food and money, are donated to the local homeless shelter.
Students and student organizations from Interboro School District in Prospect Park, PA, gathered shoeboxes of items requested by deployed soldiers and airmen from the Delaware National Guard, stuffed animals for their children, and other helpful items for local veterans as part of Operation Sandbox , supporting soldiers and airmen overseas, Operation Shoebox , supporting veterans at home, and Teddies for Troops' Kids, supporting the children of deployed members. Interboro collected approximately 480 shoeboxes full of items and about the same number of teddy bears, according to MaryLou Attwell, coordinator of the effort for the district.
"Some children receive a lot in our society. But children also need to be given the opportunity to give, and that's what we've tried to accomplish working with these students from Interboro schools. The school kids are generous in spirit if given the vehicle," said Senior Master Sgt. Dawn Peet, a 20-year teacher in the Interboro School District, who is on military leave from her teaching duties to work full-time for the 166th Airlift Wing Family Readiness office.
"My recommendation to anyone wanting to do this is make contact with either the USO located in the state (each state has a chapter) who will take the donated items, or make contact with a National Guard base to see if they wish this done for them," says Atwell. "The other way is to make contact with the volunteer coordinator at the VA hospital in your area, and work with them on the drive for items. If you want to have the items collected for Operation Sandbox, which is the one for the troops overseas, you would really need to work with the base so that the items get overseas. They do have to mail the boxes, so monetary donations are good for having the right amount of funds available for the mail," she says.
Breakfast with the Arts
Residents of the Port Clinton (OH) City School District age 60 and older were invited to attend the "Second Annual Holiday Breakfast with the Arts" which was sponsored by Port Clinton HS DECA, Leadership Council, National Honor Society, Key Club, and the art and music departments. Senior citizens enjoyed performances of the high school bands and choirs and had a chance to sing along to familiar songs.
Chili For Charity
The Nekoosa (WI) HS National Honor Society raised money for the local chapter of the American Red Cross through its annual Chili for Charity event. Chapter members offered hot bowls of chili, baked goods, and a chance to win prizes at bingo that were donated by local businesses.
Bundles of Love
National Honor Society members at Apple Valley (MN) HS and their teachers created 35 blankets for Bundles of Love, a non-profit organization based in Apple Valley. The group provides clothing, bedding, and other necessities for infants in need and it goes through 25 baby blankets a month or more. The local Wal-Mart donated the fabric for the blankets, which chapter members made out of two pieces of overlapping fleece with the edges cut into strips and tied into knots.
Organ Donation Awareness Week
The death of a beloved senior who was awaiting a lung transplant was the inspiration for Organ Donation Awareness Week sponsored by the Stevenson (IL) HS chapter of the National Honor Society chapter. The group brought in speakers including Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White, State Rep. Kathy Ryg, and organ donors and recipients to talk about the importance of organ donation. In addition, NHS members made morning announcements to the student body about organ donations, and organ donors and recipients staffed information and sign-up booths throughout the school during the week. An educational video developed by the Illinois Coalition on Donation about organ donation titled Share Your Life, Share Your Decision featuring teens who are awaiting or have received transplants also debuted.
Baby Food Drive
National Honor Society members at West Valley HS in Spokane, WA organized a baby food collection effort to benefit a local food bank. Students signed up for blocks of time over a weekend to stand outside a grocery store and hand out fliers asking shoppers to buy jars of baby food to donate. They found people to be very cooperative since baby food is fairly inexpensive.
As a service project to the members of their school community, the National Honor Society at Clements HS in Sugarland, TX, sponsored a career day where juniors and seniors interested in a particular field of study were allowed to leave class and attend presentations made by professionals in that field. NHS members contacted members of a variety of professions to obtain the speakers, prepared a schedule of presentations from which students could choose, hosted a breakfast for the speakers on career day, and escorted the speakers to their rooms.
Dressed for Success
The National Honor Society at Northern Highlands Regional HS in Allendale, N.J., organized a clothing drive for adults on welfare who are seeking jobs but lack appropriate attire to interview for or hold a job in a business office. They collected business suits, blouses, skirts, shirts, jackets, ties, and shoes that were donated to local country services for distribution.
Pomperaug HS in Southbury, CT, organizes an all-night party following its graduation ceremony to help students refrain from using alcohol to celebrate. Once at the party, students are not allowed to leave until morning. The community helps sponsor the event by donating prizes and money. Parents and teachers decorate and organize activities in the gym. Each senior receives a personalized collage of photographs sent in by parents.
Recognizing that some seniors might not be able to afford the expense of attending prom, the student council at Duluth (GA) HS covers the expenses for four senior boys and four senior girls to attend. They solicit donations of dresses, tuxedos, and dinner from local merchants and pay the cost of the tickets from student council funds. It is handled confidentially through school administrators so the student council members don't know who receives the assistance.
Special Needs Prom
Each year the student council of Pennridge HS in Perkasie, PA, hosts a prom for a local facility of special needs adults. Held in the school cafeteria, the event features refreshments, a disc jockey, and student council dance partners. "Our guests come dressed in their best outfits. They hear the music and want to dance and this is where our council members join in. We become dance partners for the evening," says student council adviser Mike White. "It is a spirited evening filled with laughter. Our students enjoy hosting the prom as much as our special friends from the community."
Student council members at Phoenix (NY) HS organize a yearly dress-up affair for senior citizens from nursing homes in their community that includes a buffet and dancing. The seniors--many of whom are in wheelchairs--are transported by bus to the school where they are greeted by student council members. A highlight of the event is group wheelchair dancing where everyone goes side by side and holds hands. Student council members enjoy the interaction and enjoy getting to learn "new" dances from the seniors.
"Every year our students are deeply touched by the connection made with these very special people," said Stacey Cook, student council president. "The seniors are just as touched because they realize that these young adults are taking their time to reach out and go back to their time and enjoy their music with them. It's a small thing that means a lot to both parties," she said.
Senior Citizen Computer Classes
Members of Lion's Quest, a community service group at Evergreen Park (IL) HS teamed up with senior citizens in their community for a six week course in how to use the computer. Each Wednesday the students teach their senior partner such things as how to use a word processor, how to surf the Internet and use e-mail, and even introduce them to playing games on the computer. At the end of the six weeks, the senior citizens have an opportunity to show the students how much they have learned.
Buckle Up for Safety
To emphasize safety and increase the number of students wearing seat belts, student council members at North Community HS in Minneapolis, MN, stand in the parking lot each morning for a week in February or March and check the cars to make sure occupants are buckled up. In addition they hang posters of crashed cars in the school and conduct awareness activities. Each day they count how many people are buckled up and how many are not. After the week they compile the data to present a report at a safety conference.
One Homeless Night
To raise money for the homeless and raise awareness of the plight of homeless people, FCCLA members of Pomperaugh HS in Southbury, CT, collect pledges in preparation for spending a night outside. Organizers provide large cardboard boxes from local stores and on the assigned date, participants arrive in the evening for one homeless night. The evening is spent quietly and the event goes on rain or shine, although in case of inclement weather participants can bring tarps.
National Honor Society members at Booker T. Washington HS in Tulsa, OK, advertise their "Drawer Drive" with posters of stick-figures wearing construction paper boxer shorts. They collect adult-sized underwear and socks, which are donated to a local day center for the homeless. When clients come to the center they are given the opportunity to shower, eat, and receive toiletries, including new socks and underwear.
Hillsboro (MO) HS National Honor Society members get a chance to play Santa each year in a collaborative effort with the local elementary school. Students in kindergarten, first, and second grades write letters to Santa which their teachers send to the NHS. Each Honor Society member receives a class to which to write responses. Members then dress up as Santa's helpers, distribute the letters with candy canes to the children, and help them read their letters.
Montwood HS in El Paso, TX, organizes the student councils in their district to weatherize homes of low income residents in their area. They solicit donations of weatherizing materials from hardware and home improvement stores, then perform the work on about 20 homes each year.
Realizing that giving is not always about money, the National Honor Society members at Bishop Shanahan HS in Downingtown, Pa., purchase or collect donations of peanut butter, jelly, bread, and sandwich bags for a weekly sandwich making session. Every Tuesday a team of NHS members make sandwiches and one person delivers them to a local shelter for abused women for the children in the safe house. Overheard during the sandwich making: "Don't be stingy with the peanut butter-remember, a kid is going to eat this."