COVINGTON - Before this year, students at Eastside High School participated in community projects on their own or in small groups. Now, the entire student body and staff are coming together for one large community project.
Beginning this month, the school started giving away care boxes to needy families in the community.
As part of a schoolwide initiative called Eagles Help and Support (E.H.S.), student clubs and organizations and staff groups are collecting staple items that will fill an 18-gallon bin, which then will be donated to a needy family in the community. Each student organization also is taking on a project, such as decorating the bins, sending out community letters and other duties.
"There's a lot of excitement in the school, which is what this is about," said Tina Daniel, a school counselor directing much of the program. "What's exciting is that you see everybody wants to help; it's a great way to teach the kids how to give back."
Late last school year, school Principal Robert Daria came up with an idea to create care boxes for local residents in need after a Covington Rotary meeting that discussed sending care packages to Africa.
After he and some staff members and student leaders brainstormed some ideas last year, they came up with the program, Eagle Help and Support (E.H.S.).
"We have so many clubs and organizations that I felt we needed something that would unify all of them," Daria said. "It's a great civic project, and it's for the entire community."
Daniel said when students returned to school in August, they "hit the ground running" to develop a plan of action.
Every month, the school plans to hold First Friday pick-up dates for families to pick up bins. The school will schedule families who fill out an application to come in to pick up a bin in the school counseling center on the preselected dates.
"It's also a great way to get people from the community to come inside of our school," Daria said about the project. "A lot of people never come into the school."
The school gave away its first two care boxes earlier this month. Two families previously talked with Daniel and filled out an application to receive the boxes; they came into the school building on pick-up day after school started to get their bins - and extra bags of items that would not fit in the bins - from Daniel and a group of students.
"We are just trying to help families," Daniel said, adding that bins are available to families inside or outside of the Eastside High School family who have long-term financial needs or issues that may result from a life-changing event such as a fire or new child.
The school hopes to expand the program in the future.
"Ultimately, I'd love to be able to give out a box a day," Daria said. "I'd also like a small facility out of the school to use as storage."
Daniel also said this is a program that she would love to see other schools adopt or come up with a similar idea.
"This helps us as a school come together and helps us bond more than we already have," said Melissa Greer, a 10th-grade student in Beta Club.
Community members who need assistance or know others who need assistance should contact Daniel at the school by calling the main phone number, 770-784-2920. They will need to fill out an application to determine a need, which is handled on a case-by-base basis.
Individuals, businesses and organizations in the community that would like to donate funding or items to the project also should call Daniel at the school.
Michelle Floyd can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.