By Susan Tebben
From coin drives to Christmas caroling, Jackson-Milton Elementary students have been hard at work showing their compassion to the community, locally and around the country.
“We’re instilling values in the children,” said Principal Joe DiLoreto. “It’s not only material things, but giving of your time and your talents, and they’ve really taken hold of those ideas.”
The month started with the word “compassion” coming from the Core Essentials program in which the school participates, a program in partnership with Chick-fil-A to teach “smart decisions and maximize their potential,” according to the Core Essentials website.
But as the month progressed, superstorm Sandy and the shooting tragedies at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn., brought the minds of the teachers and students to other goals besides the projects in school.
“It was a hard day to be an elementary school guidance counselor on Monday,” said Christine Ginnis, who helped organize service projects throughout the school. “We had just collected money for Chardon High School (also a student shooting scene) and then this happened. But the community just pulls together.”
Every student in the school from preschool to sixth grade helped with decorating coin collection boxes for hurricane victims and making snowflakes to send to the survivors of the Sandy Hook shootings, along with sending cards to military servicemen and women.
“I think it will make them feel better, with them getting things back to normal,” said Olivia Carpenter, a sixth-grader who helped make boxes and snowflakes.
When the school students went caroling at the Laurie Ann Nursing Home in Newton Falls, fourth-grader Justin Clegg got to experience making a difference on a local level.
“It felt like I was really doing something,” he said. “Like I was spreading the Christmas spirit.”
On top of the charities related to the events of 2012, Jackson-Milton students always have had regular charity events, including a fundraiser for shopping sprees at Walmart for needy families in the area. The school raised $6,100 for the families, Ginnis said.
“Every time, we hear ‘the economy’s bad, the economy’s bad, the economy’s bad,’ ” she said. “But the community comes together and it amazes me how supportive and generous they are.”