Thomas County Central High School Chick-fil-A Leader Academy chapter embraced giving to others and spreading holiday cheer with its Do Good December service project.
Do Good December is an opportunity for TCCHS students to make a difference in their community. Students choose between three different groups: Drive, Do and Deliver. Each group plans and executes a project befitting service-driven parameters.
"The students’ Do Good December projects were a lead-in to their end of year Impact Project, which will have an even larger effect on the community by involving more participants,” Stann McLeod, the school’s service learning coordinator and academy sponsor, said. “These projects are an excellent way for students to develop and expand their leadership and management skills. Students decide what specific project they want to do within their category and how they want to make an impact.”
This year’s projects were a toy drive, a jacket collection and a festive lunch for a specific branch of the school’s staff.
“It meant so much to me to know I was a part of something so helpful to the people in my community,” freshman Aubrey Eaton, a “Drive” participant, said. “It’s important to help others, and it's even more of a blessing when you have a heart for serving others.”
The “Drive” group collected jackets and donated them to the Fountain of Life Rescue shelter. Dawson Carver, 16, worked with this segment. He said they chose jackets because those are readily obtainable and much needed to provide a little warmth during the winter months.
“We set multiple boxes across the school for students to put [in] new or slightly used jackets,” Carver said. “Once we had all the jackets, we went through and sorted the jackets and counted them, and we then delivered them to the chosen shelter.”
Eaton felt especially impacted by the shelter’s history and mission.
“It warmed my heart to see the man (the founder), who was [once] homeless himself, turn an old building into a clean, safe environment for people who need it,” she said. “He started a faith-based homeless shelter from basically nothing. To see how big the man’s heart was for these people was even more special because he had been in their shoes. This project brought the realness of homelessness to my attention, and I was proud of what we’d done for the shelter. I’m even more thankful for a wonderful school system that gave us this opportunity.”
The “Do” team planned and held a festive lunch for their school’s janitorial staff. Also, they cleaned it up.
“I chose to do this specific project because it helped the community within our school,” sophomore Osmarie Tolentino said. “I wanted to give appreciation to the janitors that help our school stay clean.”
Holiday decorations festooned the school’s conference room. Also, the TCCHS chorus performed Christmas carols.
“This project really stood out to me,” sophomore Gaelle Gasque said. “I was extremely excited to give back to our custodial staff and show them that we appreciate all they do. My favorite part was the reactions we got. I was thrilled to see our goal had come to fruition and that the staff was enjoying themselves. It meant a lot to me that we were able to show our appreciation through our academy. It was extremely meaningful to give back.”
The “Deliver” troop collected toys and stuffed animal donations and conveyed them to the Tallahassee Memorial Hospital Foundation for distribution at the TMH Children’s Center.
“Helping children in need is always a fulfilling and rewarding experience,” student Alex Marquez said. “I love helping those in need whenever possible. I was especially interested in delivering the toys to the Tallahassee Memorial Hospital. It felt great knowing that we were truly making a positive impact. Giving back to others is extremely important. This project was very fulfilling and made me even more eager to serve my community.”
Participant Megan Stewart chose this option because she values children and says giving to them feels good because they deserve it.
“My favorite part of this project was getting the reaction from the ladies at the foundation,” she said. “They were so grateful that we donated those toys for the kids, and you could tell.”
CFA Leader Academy teaches youth the importance of service to others and builds leadership skills. Do Good December academy members say this project aided them in achieving this mission.
“It made me realize how fortunate I am in my own life, as well as it made me want to continue to do more for the communities,” Carver said.
Small acts of kindness can have a more significant impact than a person might realize, adds Stewart.
“This project showed how little things like dropping toys and clothes off can affect the community so big when you don't [even] realize it,” she said.
And Eaton intends to continue embracing Do Good December’s goal throughout her life.
“This project made me realize how impactful it can be to help others,” she said. “It made me want to reach out to others more and help whoever I can.”