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PCSD students work together to serve community during Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend

21st Century Learning center students with comfort bags

 

February 4, 2019

 

 

This year, students from the Parma Senior High and Valley Forge 21st Century Learning Centers took time to give back to their community around Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

 


After school on January 18, a group of students partnered up with the MyCom Youth Group to assemble comfort cases for children who are emergency-removed from their families and placed in foster care.

 


“We decided to create these cases when we found out that 2,499 children are in custody of the county and 1,906 of those children have been emergency-removed from their families,” shared Megan Drozda, program manager and site coordinator for the Valley Forge Learning Center. “This means that they may not have had the opportunity to pack a bag of their belongings or they fill a trash bag with their belongings. We wanted to create a bag that would allow the child to have hygiene items of their own, and we hoped this would help to relieve some anxiety for the children entering foster care.”

 


The 21st Century Learning Centers received the ServeOhio Martin Luther King Day of Service Grant, to help make this project possible, along with generous donations from the community.

 


“The main focus of the grant was to support projects that create or improve community assets or infrastructure such as parks, schools, senior centers, community gardens or low-income homes through community volunteer engagement,” Drozda explained. “We could use the grant for supplies and materials as well as volunteer support.”

 


Students collected a variety of personal care items, such as shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, toothbrushes, toothpaste, combs and hair brushes for the project. They also collected socks, coloring books, crayons, books, small toys and baby care items. Staff and community members throughout the district were invited to donate to the cause.

 


In total, student volunteers created and donated 66 full comfort cases, as well as multiple bags of extra supplies that could be handed out as needed for emergencies.

 


“This was an important project for our community because all of these children in foster care live in our county and many of them in live in our city,” Drozda expressed. “We were able to help provide comfort to children who may be these students’ peers and experiencing a hard time. I want my students to learn that there are children in our community who may be experiencing hard times and we need to help them any way we can.”

 


She added that she hoped students who participated in this project reflected and realized the need to give back to their community.

 


“I also hope that the students learned to be kind to one another because you never know what anyone else is experiencing,” Drozda said. “Students learned a bit more about the foster care system, as well, and how it is not a negative, as the main goal is for families to work together for reunification.”

 

 

PHOTO CAPTION:  Students from the 21st Century after school program assembled comfort cases for children who are placed in foster care.