School Student Council

Student Council Vice President Vincent Wang, Treasurer Avery Thomas, President Case Vanden Bosch, the sergeant at arms, Secretary Lily Sandell and advisor Melissa France. 

If charity was a formal course, the students at Summit School of Ahwatukee, would have aced it long ago.

And its student council likely would be at the head of the class for the organization, commitment and energy that its members have brought for at least two decades to a tradition of collecting food, games, books and gift cards, packing them in large baskets and delivering them to families in need. 

This year’s student council was no exception. And like their predecessors, the student leaders nailed it.

Last Friday, student council members and advisor Melissa France delivered 38 bountiful baskets to Homeward Bound, a nonprofit that helps families experiencing homelessness.

The baskets contained nonperishable fixings for a full-scale Thanksgiving dinner – including napkins and a festive tablecloth, juice and soda and gift cards to buy the bird and any other perishable items. Plus, the kids packed in books and a game “so that we can help encourage family time,” France said, adding that the drive also netted over $3,000 in gift cards for the recipients to buy the perishables.

She explained that as a provider of transitional housing, Homeward Bound’s “whole mission is to give a hand up, not a handout” and that it encourages families to strengthen their bonds while they work through the economic hardship that set them back.

The drive is run by the student council, whose members make posters, work social media platforms and visit classrooms – every one of them, France said, noting, “Even our preschoolers get involved.”

They come armed with feathers bearing the names of ingredients when they visit classrooms.

“They talk to them about giving back and they ask ‘What’s your favorite thing about Thanksgiving?’ And if they say potatoes, then the kids will demonstrate: ‘Okay. Well, this feather has potatoes, you can take this feather home, go to the grocery store, get potatoes and bring it back for the basket.’

While France said “it’s a service project for the whole campus,” including staff, she added that the Thanksgiving drive goes beyond it.

“The really cool thing about this year is that we had families, alumni families, who have moved out of state… who contacted one of our teachers and sent them the money to go and get the baskets funded,” she said.

Summit alumni also get in the game, giving money and items.

And even people with no connection to the school got involved.

“We weren’t able to do it last year because COVID, so this year, I feel like our families were even more engaged and wanting to do more to help out,” France said. “We had a kindergarten teacher who put it on social media and she had all kinds of friends or family donate money to make baskets. So it’s become even bigger than just our actual local school community.”

As for the student council, the entire undertaking teaches them more than just how to create a successful fundraising campaign.

France took 20 students with her to Homeward Bound to drop off the baskets.

“They get to take a tour of Homeward Bound that they could see exactly where their hard work goes,” she explained. “They got to see some of the families. They got to see some of the kids at this on-site daycare and they realize, ‘hey, they look like us.’ 

“We’re in a private school. So we definitely have very privileged kids who – their normal is not everybody else’s normal. So, to be able to give them a chance to see outside of what they’re used to and how they can give back without expectation of return is a huge life skill.”

Nor are the Summit School students learning and sharpening that life skill with just one effort.

They have already started another annual tradition – joining the Diaper Bank of Central Arizona in collecting as many diapers as possible by Christmas.

That’s filling an especially vital need, since there is no federal program that covers the cost of diapers.

“Negative physical and emotional repercussions result when families face diaper need including skin infections, urinary tract infections, and greater instances of maternal depression,” the Diaper Bank notes, adding that one in four Arizona children live below the federal poverty line. 

Not only do diapers prevent serious health issues – including maternal depression – but they also help those children’s parents.

“Most childcare providers, even subsidized or free centers, require parents to have a supply of disposable diapers (not cloth) for their child to attend for the day. No childcare means no work for parents,” the Diaper Bank bluntly states. 

France said Summit “typically wins the award for those schools in the Valley collecting the most because we usually have thousands and have a big truck come and collect them.

“It’s kids helping kids,” she added.

So the Summit student council has been making posters and individual members will take turns wearing the Sabercat mascot costume, standing in front of the school to collect diapers that are dropped off by parents and others at the campus at 4515 E. Muirwood Drive. Monetary donations also are welcomed.

“They can drop off diapers. They can drop off donations and then I just take them and go out and buy diapers,” she said.

That drive also has also become known beyond the Summit School community: “We had a daycare that closed down and they heard about us on social media, and they came with a carful of diapers to donate,” France said. 

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(1) comment

qylofehomu

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