'Tis the season of need at North East Middle School.
The school has so many community outreach helping programs running simultaneously, that's it's difficult to know whom to help first.
The school's National Junior Honor Society has been supporting flood-ravaged West Virginia since summer. That helping effort is continuing for Christmas. Lauren Lewis is a member of the National Junior Honor Society. She said that organization is collecting gloves, socks, and scarves for children in West Virginia. "I'm surrounded by a good group of people. Most of the time I see people here being kind," said Lewis.
The NJS also hosted a food drive, feeding 12 families in need within the school at Thanksgiving.
The guidance staff runs a holiday shop in time for Christmas. Students in need shop in a school operated "store" filled with donated items. The students shop for themselves and their family members. This is done confidentially.
Students in the school have also been impacted by recent fires in the North East area. School officials are working to provide for the needs of those students also. Guidance counselor Sharon Brockell said simultaneously she is overseeing three fire victims, a family where a member has terminal cancer, adopt a family, and the holiday shop within the school.
"There are a lot of opportunities for helping," explained school administrators Denise Sopa and Holly Spangler.
The administrators get to watch the students. They regularly have lunch duty in the cafeteria.
"We have a number of students with significant disabilities. Other students sit with them at lunch," said Sopa. "I don't see kids targeting kids who (have disabilities). Everybody watches out for them. The majority of our kids are nice."
"They care about each other. They will take care of each other but they don't want us to know they are," said Spangler. "Even if they don't have a lot, they will still give."
Luke Hammer is an eighth grader and member of the National Honor Society. He said that students are quick to help others at the school.
The faculty also adopts families for Christmas. School custodian Termaine Norman donates items which are raffled to raise funds to give Christmas to those in need within the school.
The helping isn't only at Christmas.
All during the school year, North East Middle also has a weekend backpack food program. About 40 students leave the school on Fridays with food to get them through the weekend.