PILOT MOUNTAIN — East Surry High School’s Campus Pride group is acting on the idea the simplest of gestures are often most comforting to those in hospice, hospital or nursing homes.
The group of 16 students involved in Campus Pride has code named its project Operation Color, which seeks to collect items such as crayons, word puzzle books and coloring books to help local hospice and hospital patients.
Campus Pride is just one of the school’s programs providing more than 25 minutes daily during the school week for students to have pride time, where every students gets a designated activity area to go to. Activities include open gym, study hall, computer lab or perhaps helping around campus. Students rotate into another pride time group every six weeks.
“Pride Time is an opportunity for kids to try something new for a change,” said coordinator Shannon Haynes. “We thought it would be cool for a pay it forward group to be a part of this.” The pay it forward concept was made popular by a movie of that name involving persons giving something to another without any return expected.
“This is our first year doing this as part of pride time,” continued Haynes. “We are learning as we go. More students are requesting to be moved into this program. They are very passionate about helping their community.”
Haynes said the idea evolved from an experience she had years ago when she and her daughter, Hannah, visited her father, Thomas Allen, when hospice was in his home. They took Allen a word search book which he enjoyed.
“Personal experiences like this let us decide something a small group could do,” added Haynes. “A lot of times patients enjoy coloring or word searches. When we have visited nursing homes, we have observed that residents just like to sit and color sometimes.”
Campus Pride began its drive to collect crayons, coloring books and word search books the second week of school. A total of 186 coloring books and 45 boxes of crayons have been collected as the drive rolls on.
“Once word got out, others are telling us they want to change groups,” said Haynes. “Originally many students thought it was cleaning up around the school. Enthusiasm for this is growing. Students not in the group are asking their teachers to get the word out to their classes. Others are bringing books and having parents pass the word along.
“It’s overwhelming how the student body has come around,” added Haynes. She explained that she and fellow coordinator Misty Bruner had talked about all the negative people hear about school incidents nationally and how nice it was to see students from different groups banding together to serve their community.
Bruner said that all the books and crayons will be donated to hospice homes, nursing homes and doctor’s offices locally. Haynes said after the collecting phase, Campus Pride will try and arrange for students to be involved with delivering the items to the patients.
“We want them to see true appreciation from the people they are helping,” said Haynes. “I am impressed by the kids. They did a lot of contacting business leaders over donations and phoned and visited people personally. They’ve done a fantastic job.”
She said they hoped to collect 50 total boxes of crayons.
“We are really pushing the crayons here in the home stretch,” commented Haynes. “We want them to learn that we all go through tough situations. Somebody is always having a really bad day. Even if you are the one having that bad day helping someone else will make you and them feel better. Even one person can make a difference.”
Another project that is in the discussion phase is collecting Christmas ornaments for hospitals and hospice.
Reach David Broyles at firstname.lastname@example.org or 719-1952.