‘Tis the season of giving in RSU 18, and thanks to our wonderfully supportive community partnerships and our dedicated administrators and staff, we’ve been able to do a lot to help teach our students the importance of giving back.
“We are proud of our giving efforts this year,” said Atwood Principal Jenn McGee.
The Atwood staff and students provided over 500 items of non-perishable food to the Oakland Food Pantry through their “Dress Like an Elf, Put Food on the Shelf” event. They also provided gifts and stockings for children in 22 families this year. This is on top of several other giving events for the American Cancer Society, Costumes for Crohn’s Disease, and RSU 18 employees in need. “We are a little school with a BIG heart, ”said McGee.
Our Williams Elementary students focused on spreading hope and good cheer through several card campaigns in recent weeks. They created cards for a student in Southern Maine who was battling cancer at Maine Medical Center and a district student who is in Boston over the holidays receiving cancer treatments. They also created Christmas cards for nursing home residents at Mount St. Joseph that were delivered by Mrs. Peterson’s chorus students when they went to sing holiday songs for the residents.
Belgrade Central School has been very busy making the holidays a little brighter for members of their community.
“Mrs. Wade, our school counselor, and Mrs. Stevens, our school secretary have been working with local churches and organizations and distributed 25 turkey dinners at Thanksgiving.” said Principal Gwen Bacon, “[They also] just distributed Christmas gifts to 30 student families.”
In November, BCS students and staff collected 875 items from their Thanksgiving food drive and delivered them to the Belgrade/Rome food pantry. They also raised $332.48 for the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at Maine Medical Center to purchase books for the Barbara Bush Wing and raked leaves at the Belgrade Public Library this fall.
The James Bean School had a particularly successful food drive this year. They collected 1130 non-perishable food items and 6 complete Thanksgiving baskets for area families. These were delivered on Nov. 21st by the 5th-grade students as part of their community service.
JBS staff and students have also been reaching out to support three RSU Alumni who have faced serious health issues recently.
Food donations took on a creative twist at China Primary School this year. King Arthur Flour recently presented a bread making demonstration at the school, and students were provided with the ingredients to make two loaves of bread with the intent that one loaf be donated.
“Several beautiful loaves have come into the school to be delivered to the food pantry,” said CPS Principal Darlene Pietz. CPS students also worked together to create gingerbread treats to be taken to the homeless shelter in Augusta.
The China Middle School JMG put giving trees in the foyer of both schools, and the response from parents and staff was fantastic. Both CPS and CMS used their Tuesday Notice to provide families with information on Christmas Assistance available within the school and the community, including fuel assistance, food baskets, winter clothes, or even just a listening ear and a shoulder to lean on. The China schools have also been collecting new and gently used winter coats, gloves, mittens, hats and snow pants for the Coats for Kids Maine program.
Giving back to the community can sometimes take the form of creating one magical day for our youngest learners. Yesterday MMS hosted their annual Winter Wonderland for all of the district kindergarteners (see article here). Other events in recent weeks include the MMS Pre Vet Club pet food and supplies drive, headed by student Chantelle Flores, and a hat day to benefit the Tourette’s Association of America hosted by MMS student, Dawson Noonan. At the beginning of this month, the school held a backpack food drive to replenish the middle school’s food pantry. The pantry provides food to MMS students on weekends and over school breaks through the backpack program. Earlier this fall, MMS also held their annual veterans breakfast and assembly and their community leaf raking project.
MHS Student Council led the charge on their annual food drive and several food baskets were donated to the families of students in need. “We do our best throughout the year to support those who need assistance,” said Principal Paula Callan, “whether it be food, oil, clothing or beyond.” The Messalonskee JMG also ran their annual donation based Christmas Store.
“The past few years have been very encouraging,” said JMG specialist Skip Bessey Jr.,“and we have helped a lot of students and their families with gifts.” JMG has also been raising money in conjunction with the Gold Ribbon Club to send care packages to overseas troops.
This is just some of the given projects that go on in our district. Smaller class-based service learning projects were done at various levels throughout the district, several chorus classes visited local nursing homes to sing for the residents, the Central Office staff sponsored 3 families in the district and put together baskets providing basic necessities, and district staff participated in the United Way Campaign. The list goes on and will continue to go on throughout the year.
We are lucky to be part of a community that is so focused on helping those in need. Hopefully, the gift of giving is one we will continue to instill in our students throughout the school year and for years to come.
written by Mandi Favreau