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Often that pronouncement is made in a negative sense, but many Roane County school students are proving that young people can substantially contribute to their community.
From collecting wrapping paper for Operation REACH, the charity that helps needy Roane County families buy Christmas gifts, to collecting food and other items for the Roane County Animal Shelter, Roane County young folks have shown they have big hearts.
Rockwood High School isn’t just where Operation REACH volunteers wrap the presents needy children bought their families.
Principal Alan Reed, who is on the charity’s board, sees at least half the student body volunteer at the shopping excursion.
“We never know until we get there Saturday morning, but I anticipate another 250 again this year,” Reed said.
He said many of the student volunteers aren’t doing it for extra credit or to look good on college resumes, but because they enjoy it.
Some, he said, volunteer for Operation REACH because the charity helped their own families and they want to return the favor.
Other Rockwood High programs include a clothes closet in the school for students in need.
The school’s Family, Career and Community Leaders of America club washes the donated items in the Family and Consumer Science classes.
Rockwood’s Interact Club also recently held a macaroni drive at the school for the local food pantry.
Harriman High School’s FCCLA is partnering with the clubs in other schools to collect wrapping paper for Operation REACH. They call the project Wrapping up Joy in Roane County.
The idea came from Harriman senior Greg Bunch.
“I had asked everyone in the club to bring at least one roll. I had one boy bring in 30 rolls today. Some of the kids not even in the club are bringing in paper,” said teacher Tina Ruffner.
Ruffner said it is good to see the students give back, and to be reminded that no matter how hard their own situations may be, there is usually someone worse off.
Even younger children are getting involved in community projects.
Harriman Middle School’s Positive Peer Pressure Club is making Christmas cards to give to hospital patients. It recently made stockings and stuffed them with homemade cards, socks, lip balm and candy to send to a platoon in Kuwait.
“The kids were really excited to honor our soldiers,” said Yvette Reader, the school’s counselor.
Harriman Middle also held a canned food drive in conjunction with Bowers Elementary School and Harriman High School for Thanksgiving baskets. Last year they provided 100 of them.
Dyllis Springs Elementary School collects food for the local food ministry in Oliver Springs, and Dyllis Springs’ fourth-grade class is participating in Operation Christmas Child.
At Bowers, the dance team will perform at a nursing home before Christmas break. Midtown Elementary’s choir also performed at a nursing home this year.
Midway Elementary School holds a book sale with proceeds going to Operation REACH. Midway Elementary Boy Scouts are also gathering items for food baskets.
Also, eighth graders at Midway Middle School, Midway High School’s Agriscience classes and Future Farmers of America are collecting jeans, coats and shoes for the needy.
In the spring the group will launch a canned food drive for local families.
At Kingston Elementary, students of Amanda Scandlyn are bringing in dog food, new or gently used toys, old blankets, towels and more to donate to the Roane County Animal Shelter.
Scandlyn said many of her children may not have the means to purchase something, but most can find something at home the shelter may need.
At Roane County High School the Key Club held a Halloween Dance to raise money for Operation REACH, and the RCHS Student Council collected donations for Hands of Mercy Food Bank.
Roane County High School’s Beta Club dresses up as elves to provide Christmas gifts to about 50 selected children at Kingston Elementary and Cherokee Middle School.
Each child is given clothes, toys, shoes, a coat and personal hygiene products.
“It is a joy and blessing to watch the happiness that abounds from the recipients, but it is even more of a gift to watch the reaction of the Beta kids. It is a moving experience for all,” said Ruth Thompson, the club’s advisor. The club also collects food for Hands of Mercy and others in need.