Many Dempsey Middle School students spent their study hall periods Monday working on sleeping bags that will be donated to homeless people in Delaware County.
The project was organized by Donna Imel, the founder of SHARE: Taking Responsibility Together, who has been working with Dempsey for nearly a decade to create sleeping bags for homeless shelters in the area.
The students worked on the sleeping bags in Career Based Intervention instructor Nicki Wright’s room and Wright said she volunteered her classes to work on the project Monday and Tuesday.
“[My class] is a job skills class and part of that is service and volunteering,” Wright said.
Wright said the project shows students that you don’t need to donate money or items to help others, you just have to give your time.
“Some kids made posters to promote the project and others have been here teaching other students,” Wright said.
Imel said the project benefits the students because it broadens their horizons.
“It gives us the opportunity to talk to them about homeless,” Imel said. “The students are afraid of sewing, but it’s as simple as tying a knot.
Imel said the group at Dempsey is just one of the five or six groups she runs on behalf of SHARE. The sleeping bags are made up of cleaned donated blankets, fabric and men’s ties. Imel reported that the nonprofit donated more than 300 sleeping bags last year.
In addition to the blanket, the homeless receive basic health kits including hand towels, wash clothes, soap and shampoo, toothbrushes, disposable razors and other hygiene products.
Imel said when people of helping the homeless they think purely of monetary donations but added that the beauty of the sleeping bag project is that it’s so simple that everyone can do it.
Before the project began, Imel spoke to students about homelessness and they were required to do research on the topic.
“[The presentation] inspired me to do this,” said Lily Lectka, an eighth-grader working on the sleeping bags.
“I’m doing this for the good of my county,” said Zachariah Johnson, also an eighth-grader. “There are people out there who freeze and that’s not very nice.”
Imel said the students are the most willing to help the homeless.
“Students are vital,” Imel said. “They still have soft hearts.”
More information about SHARE can be found on www.shareyourbest.us or by contacting Donna Imel directly at 570-977-6018.
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.