Our first project happened around Halloween. The coordinator from the Women's Club heard that I wanted to try a project on my own through my school. She asked if I would collect a few bags of candy for the annual Halloween party at the Shelter. I went to school and made up some flyers for teachers to post in their rooms about the new program and made cute candy collection bags and distributed them around school as drop off points. Some of the teachers even allowed me to directly speak to their classes for a few minutes to explain my new project. The response was great-just as I had suspected, there were many kids who wanted to give. Our goal was small-to try and collect about 10 bags of candy. We only had a few days notice but by the end of the week we had over 25 bags of candy plus many bags of party supplies and small gifts to give the children as they "trick or treated" at the Shelter. Some people even donated party decorations. I then organized a group to actually come and help with the party and we helped decorate and give out candy/goodies. It was a great night. At that time I had also collected lists of students names who wanted to sign up to help out in other ways-storytelling, tutoring, performing, etc.
Our first project was a success and then some. As the Christmas holiday came around, I received some wish lists that the kids at the shelter wanted. So I found a small tree and put tags on it of the wish list items, plus asked for any gifts for the moms and any books, etc.... Again, with only a few days notice what a wonderful response we had! The students from the Middle School brought in over 300 items and the High School students brought in over 200 items! (Our teachers donated too!) I had to make a few trips from school with my car in order to get all of the gifts home! Once I got all of the gifts home-we merged them with the gifts collected from the Women's Club and spent hours sorting them into piles for specific families at the Shelter. We had soooo many items that we had enough left over to give to the American Cancer Society and the Amvets. We FAR exceeded my expectations but the best thing to see was the joy and enthusiasm from my fellow classmates. They were so excited to give to those less fortunate than us. I think we truly helped the families at the Shelter through a difficult holiday.