Two student groups at Rustburg High School have led initiatives to help those in need this holiday season, providing them with real-world experience in planning and implementing these projects. The Student Council Association (SCA) has raised funds to purchase food for families sponsored through the school’s Angel Tree program. And the school’s driving class held a winter clothes drive, and collected much more winter coats and warm clothes than they expected, which will be put to good use by partnering with a non-profit district.
Casey Eccles, a librarian at Rustburg High School, serves as one of SCA’s faculty sponsors and teaches the leadership class, but she said it was the students who conceived, organized and implemented both initiatives themselves.
Student body and SCA President Skylar Pomagwal described the SCA fundraising project, which took a two-pronged approach, reaching both students and teachers. “We sold wristbands for $1, students could buy them and then wear a hat for a day. All that money and proceeds went to Angel Food” at the school’s Angel Tree program. “It was a lot of fun. And then the teachers could donate money to wear jeans for a day, which would also go to the same cause,” Pomagal explained
Overall, Rustburg SCA fundraisers made $416, enough to buy food for 27 Tree Angels beneficiaries and their families, according to Eccles. SCA leaders sold Chances of bracelets and jeans the morning before school.
Alexis Blount and Alexis Carter are both members of the Driving Class, and they helped lead the clothing campaign. “It started as a winter coats campaign and turned more into a winter clothing campaign,” Blount said. “We collected the coats…”
“We have a lot of coats!” Carter intervenes.
“We have scarves, gloves, pants, and lots of warm clothes,” Blount stated.
Carter commented, “We’ve got a little bit of everything so far.”
The two noted that the project grew far beyond what they originally envisioned. They stated that they had originally planned to give the overcoats to the Salvation Army, but that plan was unsuccessful, as did a backup plan. Eventually, they founded a non-profit organization to partner with the Madison House of the Arts. The headquarters of the local charitable organization is located in Lynchburg.
Student leaders reported seeing an astonishing amount of generosity among the students. “I wasn’t expecting such a turnout at all,” Blount said.
“We were pretty shocked about how much we got. Clothes kept coming and going,” Carter recounted. They said contributions kept pouring in daily, contrary to their initial expectations of “just two bags of coats.”
The girls said the project taught them teamwork. “I was definitely learning about teamwork, because it was a big project to manage. Blount shared.
“And organization — it took a lot of organization to run something this big,” Carter noted.
The clothing campaign produced mountains of warm winter clothing that had been piled up in the back rooms of the school library in advance to be donated to a non-profit partner.
SCA leaders delivered food purchased with the pooled money on Friday, December 17 before schools recess for the Christmas holidays.
Acts of giving and helping those in need demonstrate that while the students of Rostburg High School may be the “Red Devils” on the athletic field and court, their hearts are angelic of gold within.