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1-18-23 — Schools, Staff Give Generously to Community Projects
Jan. 18, 2023 ~ Students, staff and families across the Olathe Public Schools are known for their commitment to community service projects throughout the year, but the holiday season is an especially giving time. Districtwide events included the Pennies for Shoes campaign across all schools that raised $32,525 for the Olathe Mayor’s Children’s Fund and the district’s staff campaign which collected nearly $14,600 for United Way.
Many individual buildings shared news of their community service projects.
Clearwater Creek Elementary School collected food for Mission Southside via a friendly classroom competition. In the first two days, they had more than 4,300 items, ending with a total of more than 12,000 food items. “Each year we do Kindness Week to promote ways to be kind around the building with spirit days, announcements, and a way to give back to the community through a food drive,” said counselor Mallori Lethem. “Clearwater Creek families always go above and beyond in supporting our community and it’s amazing to see!” Counselors Jaime Englis and Mallori Lethem coordinated the event.
Food Services staff decorated gift bags and filled them with items for Head Start students. Thanks to the generosity of Food Services staff across the district, each Head Start student received a hat, pair of gloves, toothpaste, toothbrush and two pairs of socks. This is an annual tradition for Food Services staff going back at least 30 years, according to Cindy Jones, assistant director of Food Services general administration.
The Manchester Park Elementary community stepped up in a huge way to provide holiday gifts for 87 area foster children by participating in the Red Bag Project. In early December, nearly 70 students, 35 parents and 20 staff members wrapped more than 700 gifts in less than 90 minutes and packed them in red bags for delivery. The community also provided a handmade, no-sew blanket for each of the 87 children. Community Service Co-chairs MaryAnn Johnson and Allie Briley worked for weeks to make this project a success.
Olathe Advanced Technical Center and Olathe South High School student A.J. Vance organized a food drive to benefit New Hope Pantry. He reached out to the organization to learn what they needed, which was side dish items for Thanksgiving meals. After organizing a competition between the OATC programs, A.J. and his OATC classmates collected two truck beds full of food in one week.
Olathe South High School theatre students held a haunted house food drive prior to Halloween to benefit the Johnson County Christmas Bureau. They turned off lights in the school hallways and led tours of visitors through the “haunted hallways” as costumed theatre students scared attendees. Anyone who donated five food items got in free. Theater teacher David Hastings estimated at least 350 people participated and more than 1,000 pounds of food was collected. “This was a fundraiser for our theatre program and part of the Kansas Thespian community service event called Trick or Treat so Kids Can Eat,” Hastings said. “It was a major success on all counts.”
Ravenwood Elementary School’s Tiger Service Club organized a Thanksgiving meal food drive to serve the Ravenwood community and beyond. Each grade level was responsible for bringing a specific part of a Thanksgiving meal. (Example: Kindergarten brought ingredients to make green bean casserole) The school created “Thanksgiving in a Box” for Ravenwood families in need and made donations to Mission Southside and New Hope Food Pantry in Olathe.
Scarborough Elementary School’s SC in Action Team, a student group led by gifted teacher Belinda Phillips and counselor Lori Crowther, held a Thanksgiving food drive. Each grade level was asked to bring specific traditional Thanksgiving food items. Staff donated money to help purchase six turkeys for identified Scarborough families. After filling boxes of food for the families, the remaining food was donated to a local food pantry.