This post was published on The Garner News on July 7, 2020
BY MARGARET DAMGHANI
A group of ten Garner high school students donated over 300 care packages to local organizations to address the needs of the homeless and those in assisted living facilities during the COVID-19 crisis. They planned and implemented their project, the Corona Relief Crew, as a part of their involvement in the local organization Community Navigators Community Builders and were awarded a $10,000 grant by the Lead4Change Student Leadership Program for their efforts.
Donations, supplies or drop off locations were supplied by Hudson Hardware, Target, Little Details Boutique, Office Depot, Papa John’s, Red Robin, Revonnae Hayes, members of First Presbyterian Church in Garner, and members of Poplar Springs Christian Church. David Williams contributed photography and videography.
The packages contained commonly needed items like soap, socks, washcloths and non-perishable foods, but the students added extras to help people cope with the current pandemic.
YOU’RE NOT ALONE IN QUARANTINE
“We decided that everyone is at home alone, having to stay in the quarantine and distance themselves from everyone else. We thought about the people that don’t really get thought about a lot,” said Genesis Moragne, a rising senior at North Wake College and Career Academy. “We said, ‘Why don’t we think about them and let them know that we have not forgotten about them.’”
To that end, the care packages were made to include not only currently in-demand hygiene items like masks and hand sanitizer, but also handmade notes for those in assisted living and a letter of encouragement to be read to recipients of the items at the men’s shelter in downtown Raleigh.
“The donation was good but a lot of volunteers aren’t coming in. They aren’t getting a smiling face. With this letter they could know that folks really didn’t forget them,” Moragne said. Two of the students wrote the letter personally.
REAL WORLD PROJECTS IN THE COMMUNITY
The Community Navigators Community Builders group was founded in 2017 by Cleopatra Lacewell to provide opportunities for character development and leadership skills in middle and high school students. She guided her students through the curriculum created by Lead4Change, and their project was ranked in the top five out of over 30 other projects that were also recognized.
“Our CBCN program is much like the Lead4Change program. We give them projects to do and this was one of them. Our organization is basically showing them project based learning opportunities,” Lacewell said. “We try to bridge the gap between school and community.”
The Lead4Change Student Leadership Program is a national program that began in 2012 with a fully developed curriculum aimed at teaching students about themselves as well as leadership skills, said program manager Linda Spahr.
“They were a great example of how the program really comes to life. What the students walk away with is a real change in themselves. They really go from teenagers to knowing how to lead. To all come together as leaders in their own talent area and make change happen. They can really talk about that in job interviews and on college applications,” Spahr said.
The program gave out over $150,000 in grants for the academic year and has about 11,000 registered student groups that can submit projects for challenges twice a year.
RESPONSIBILITY AND RESULTS
Each student was responsible for a certain job related to the completion of the project, with some students garnering donations, finding organizations to give to or marketing the project. The students ran their collection event on June 5 and 6 in the Office Depot parking lot, and also garnered donations to purchase supplies from local businesses. They also practiced skills like giving elevator pitches as they developed their project.
In all, 90 care packages were given to the Men’s Shelter, 10 to Haven House Wrenn House, 75 to Bella Rose Nursing Home and 132 to Pruitt Health Center.
Many local organizations donated money or items, and at the collection event several individuals came back to donate more than once.
“We had great support from the community,” Lacewell said. “Because we are fairly new, we’ve been trying to grow it. This year we have 19 kids in our program, just trying to teach them to give back. The whole premise is growing and developing community leaders.”
More information on Community Navigators Community Builders can be found at www.communitynavigatorscommunitybuilders.org.