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1-11-21 — Students Pull Together to Help Others

Jan. 11, 2021 ~ One of the negative side effects of COVID-19 was more families in need of assistance. Food pantries faced empty shelves. Families had a hard time paying rent or utilities; some became homeless.

On the positive side, Olathe students shined brightly as they organized and carried out massive community service projects to help everyone from health care providers and nursing home residents to families and homeless individuals. Here is a sample of the generosity shown by Olathe students and staff this school year.

  • The Student Lighthouse Team at Brougham Elementary School went “all out” on the school’s Pennies for Shoes campaign. Every contributing child counted their coins at home, then pooled the donations into a classroom bucket. Then the entire classroom added up the individual contribution amounts as a math problem. They raised more than $2,465.
  • Students in Kristi Woenstendick’s eighth grade Careers class at Mission Trail Middle School made wreaths for the residents’ doors at Good Samaritan Society – Olathe. The idea stemmed from Woenstendick’s personal connection to the facility, and a Project Citizen research project in which her students chose an issue facing the community. They wanted to focus on “Loneliness Due to COVID in Nursing Homes.”
  • The Raven Service Club at Olathe Northwest High School donated about 30 no-sew blankets for the district’s Community Development Office to share with students in need. Earlier in the year the RSC members wrote thank you notes to medical staff at area hospitals. They also made reindeer ornaments and wrote Christmas cards for the residents of Benton House assisted living facility, and gathered hygiene kit items and food for the Veterans Community Project.
  • Olathe West High School’s annual Give a Hoot program went virtual in 2020 due to the pandemic. Students were creative in planning and implementing their projects, such as writing uplifting message on sidewalks around nearby schools, Zooming with elementary classrooms and nursing home residents, and collecting food, clothing, blankets, diapers, etc. for area charities.
  • Several classes of students at Pleasant Ridge Elementary School put their computer skills to work making holiday cards for veterans. This was computer lab associate Sandra Bluhm’s first time to organize a community service project, but it was successful with about 85 cards to be distributed through The Honor Center for homeless veterans in Gainesville, FL.
  • Prairie Center Elementary School students collected about 200 pounds of food (more than 600 items) to benefit M.U.F.F.I.N (Mothers United For Families In Need). MUFFIN Fund is a group of women who provide food, clothing, fees, etc. for children in the Olathe Public Schools.
  • The Prairie Trail Middle School sixth grade academic extension class led by Dana Davis and Missie Klusman put a creative twist on a typical food drive. Inspired by their entry for Olathe’s Martin Luther King Jr. Contest, students used the theme “Call to Action” to make a piece of art made from canned food labels. They also filmed announcements, organized, and collected more than 715 pounds of canned food for Harvesters.
  • Students throughout Regency Place Elementary School organize community service projects each year. This year fourth grade students collected about 3,421 hygiene items for homeless people in the Kansas City area. Their Dignity Drive benefited the organization Giving the Basics.