Members of the newly formed Student Ambassador Club at JN Fries Magnet School recently wrapped up their third community service initiative since forming earlier this school year.
The service club for grades 6-8 attracted roughly 20 students who are interested in strengthening the student community through bully-prevention and by providing opportunities to assist those less fortunate.
The club, created by Cathy Eveland – an 18-year Cabarrus County School counselor and 11-year Harrisburg resident – began with a drive to collect pet food for Petey’s Promise, a local nonprofit that has helped feed more than 4,000 animals since forming in 2008.
In 2012, Chase Carey, the son of the nonprofit’s founder Liz Mellot, set a Guinness World Record for making the world’s largest homemade crayon. It was called Petey’s Passion and weighed 731 pounds – measuring 9-feet, 9 3/4-inches. Now a student at JN Fries, the club chose Petey’s Promise for one of their donations.
Eveland said hosting the pet food drive was a great way to kick off their efforts while honoring a fellow classmate. The students donated 499 pounds of dog and cat food for their first outreach effort.
The second effort, dubbed Penny Wars, was a contest where clubs throughout the school competed to collect the most pennies.
The school’s rock band and newspaper clubs won the contest, but the real winners were recipients of Cooperative Christian Ministry’s fuel fund, said Eveland. That effort raised $549 to help provide heat to area families in need.
The third effort was a used book drive. The club collected 970 gently-used books that were distributed to Coltrane Webb Elementary – but also to JN Fries’ classroom libraries and The Opportunity House, a joint ministry of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and United Methodist Church.
The books were given to students without reading material at home. The Opportunity House uses the books in their tutoring program.
Rosalind Diefenbach, a sixth-grader in the school’s STEM program, said she joined the club to do something more than have fun.
“I chose this club because I …wanted to be a part of the bigger picture and help others along the way,” she said.
Melissa Kissling, a seventh-grader in the school’s International Studies Program, joined to help her community and influence her school environment.
“I knew that if I joined a club like this, I would certainly be able to positively impact those around me,” she said.
“I want to help anyone that needs help,” said Anand Rabara, an eight-grader in the school’s International Studies program. “I want to help make better learning environments for other students, and I want to give and help in any possible way I can.”
Diefenbach hopes the club has many more accomplishments this year.
“I hope we accomplish many things, but not all at once,” she said. “The Student Ambassador Club can help me have a head start on making changes in the community. Whether it is a book drive or a fundraiser for the homeless, it can lead me to help others later in life.”
Kissling added, “I hope to change my environment for the better in the Student Ambassadors’ club. I know that if I put forth my best effort, I will make it easier to communicate and be friendly to others, and that can positively impact my social environment at school.”
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