Buckeye Valley Middle School students participated in a heart-warming project for the homeless by making sleeping bags from recycled blankets and neck ties.
The middle school class taught by Tina Francis titled “Career Based Instruction” partnered with Share, a Delaware-based organization that is committed to helping the homeless.
Students participate in charitable activities as part of the class.
”We do a collection drive at least once a month,” Francis said Friday morning. “There’s a need to help this organization.”
Students are taught about making smart choices in life such as college, future careers and with money. Part of those choices are making it a priority to give back to the community.
Ryan Haney, an eighth-grade student, wants to be the CEO of a major corporation or get into computer coding some day. “I find it really important to dedicate some of my time to help others,” she said.
Making sleeping bags for Share has become one of the regular events Francis does with her class.
“This is the second time I’ve done it,” said Carter Susmilch, another eighth grader. “I think this is a good thing we’re doing for the homeless.” He added, “I’ve never seen a homeless person in Ashley.”
Donna Imel, founder of Share and originally from northeastern Pennsylvania, moved to Delaware nine years ago. She said she has been making the bags for 30 years. After moving to Delaware she learned that a man had frozen to death.
“That’s when I decided to start a group here,” she said.
As she sewed and talked with students she told them they won’t see many homeless people in Delaware County.
“In Delaware you won’t see homeless people like you do in big cities,” she said. “They tend to go to the larger cities.”
She talked to them about how she got started with helping the homeless.
“I knew I couldn’t walk by one of these people and not do something,” she said. “I started out collecting the supplies these people needed.”
Imel said she roughly gets 300 sleeping bags made a year with the help of volunteers.
“Many of the sleeping bags you’ve made are now at the Warming Center (in Delaware),” Imel told the students.
Imel said the bags go to homeless shelters and soup kitchens, but she is a big believer in taking care of your own first.
“I’m a big believer in taking care of your own first,” she said. “The Warming Center has first choice.”
For information on Share go to their website http://shareyourbest.org/ or call 570-977-6018.
D. Anthony Botkin may be reached at 740-413-0902 or on Twitter @dabotkin.