by Lisa Tome
The staff at North East Middle School is doing its part to keep students warm this year.
The school has an ongoing hat and hoodie drive. New hats and new or gently used hooded sweatshirts are being accepted. They are distributed within the school.
Jennifer Shaw, an NEMS assistant principal explained how the hat and hoodie drive came to be. "Kids in middle school don't tend to wear jackets. They wear hoodies," said Shaw. The PTSO donated hats and hoodies. A volunteer is also making hats for students. Anyone with new hats or new or used hoodies may take them to the school.
School officials said that any student who doesn't have a hoodie, wears the same hoodie over and over, or who appears to be wearing a hoodie that is worn out, will be offered the gift of a new hoodie. "We need from the smallest to the largest," said Shaw.
The spirit of giving is also alive within the community.
From October 27 through November 13, the school's National Junior Honor Society and Student Council collected Thanksgiving food items - vegetables, mashed potatoes, yams, cranberry sauce and more.
With the donations, which included nearly 650 items, students made 11 food baskets. The PTSO donated a turkey for each basket. The baskets were then given to families in need.
NEMS guidance counselor Sharon Brockell explained the drive from the student perspective.
"They want to help and give. They realize the gratification. It feels good to help and pay it forward. The ones who help know they're blessed and their environment at home supports that," said Brockell.
School paraprofessional Richard Mahoney also chipped in. Mahoney donated pies for all the Thanksgiving baskets. "I was raised in a Christian household. Even when times get tough, I am still blessed. I live in Bel Air but my heart's in Cecil County. I grew up here," said Mahoney.
Eighth grader and National Junior Honor Society member Caroline Roberts said she enjoyed helping with the food drive.
"We're grateful for what we have. Some people are not as fortunate," said Roberts.
Her fellow honor society members Jesonnie Wright agreed. "It's fun helping people," said Wright.