Bethel students helping others
Tracy B. Cieniewicz, Hartselle Enquirer
Hunger, natural disaster relief, pediatric cancer research, and pediatric patient/caregiver wellbeing are hard issues for most anyone to tackle, but five caring students at Bethel Baptist School have each found a way to try.
Teacher Brenda Junkins said this is the first year for Bethel's five fifth and sixth grade students to individually identify community needs and initiate a plan of action to help fulfill those needs.
"I realize how blessed we are and thought this project would be a blessing to others," Junkins explained. "I thought it was a nice idea to let the kids find their own way to help and choose who to help. They had really good ideas."
Sixth grader Tyler Dodd decided to collect canned and non-perishable food items to donate to Tennessee Valley Outreach for distribution to needy families.
He has placed donation boxes throughout his school and posted notices letting his classmates and church family know about his project.
"During Thanksgiving, people like to look back at ways they have been blessed," Dodd said. "Because I have been blessed, I chose to give back to others."
Sixth grader Pearc Preston is collecting new or gently used books to give to hurricane victims who have relocated to Morgan County. He has announced his project in chapel, discussed it with classmates and teachers, and placed three collection boxes around campus. He hopes to collect at least 100 books to be distributed by Decatur Youth Services before the end of the school year.
"I chose this project because reading is a good way to forget some things that upset you and use your imagination," Preston said. "The children have been through a hurricane and reading would be good for them and their parents, too."
Fifth grader Ryan Garner is writing and illustrating books for pediatric patients in local hospitals to have as a comfort and a keepsake. He hopes to reach as many children as possible this school year and plans to include a gospel tract inside each book.
"I want to let them know someone really cares," Garner explained. "I think they feel left out. I hope to let the kids know that there are kids in this world that really do care. I have been in the hospital before and it can be a very scary time for a kid. I think when the kids are scared they need other kids to comfort them."
Fifth grader Jacob Sandlin has placed specially marked trash cans around campus to collect soda cans for recycling. He plans to donate the money he receives this school year at the recycling center to St. Jude's Hospital for cancer research.
"The kids at St. Jude's need help," Sandlin said.
Sixth grader Megan Gibson is collecting gallons of soda can tabs, which equate to 70 cents per pound in monetary donations to Ronald McDonald House Charities. The donations help with operation costs, meals, and other amenities for the families of pediatric patients. Gibson's goal is to collect 50 gallons of tabs this school year. She is holding a contest to see which class at her school can collect the most tabs and plans to hold a pizza party for the winners.
"I would like to personally deliver the tabs and while there be able to see the Ronald McDonald House and possibly meet some families that are staying there," Gibson explained. "These kids who are getting medical treatment are just the same as me, except they are having medical problems. I am sure that anything we can do to help make their life a little easier is greatly appreciated."
Aside from these individual student community projects, the Bethel Baptist School student body donates time and goods to Tennessee Valley Outreach throughout the year, including collecting a love offering to supply needy families with dairy products year-round.
"Community outreach is a great way for the students to develop leadership skills and realize their blessings," Junkins said.
To find out more about or contribute to any of these community projects, contact Brenda Junkins at Bethel Baptist School at 773-2154.