A group of students, parents and community members came together to honor Martin Luther King Jr. at the high school through community service, even without a day of school. Students and their families gathered in the egress Jan. 18 to pack 250 toiletry kits and craft handwritten notes for the homeless. The kits will be distributed on a different date in downtown Cleveland, during The Homeless Stand Down.
The Homeless Stand Down is a two-day event organized by Greater Cleveland to provide necessities for homeless and impoverished individuals and families.
Lisa Hamilton is the chair of the Shaker Heights High School Community Building Committee, a committee that is part of each Shaker Schools’ Parent Teacher Organization. The Community Building Committee is a group of parents aiming to establish connections between families.
The “Packing Party” is the first event the Community Building Committee has held this year. The Community Building Committee has not been active in the past. However, the current parents are eager to become reinvolved. The purpose of the service project was “to invite members of the community who aren’t normally together to come together to do this great cause,” Hamilton said. Over one hundred students and their families of all ethnicities volunteered at the Packing Party.
“I just really wanted to make an impact on my community and really give out to those in need,” freshman Madison Wilson said. “I feel that it’s important and it’s a wonderful activity. I wanted to bring my family along and just make an impact and just pass on good, positive thoughts.”
Wilson is confident that the efforts of the Community Building Committee and volunteers will make a difference. “Especially with this great turnout we had today, I really think that Shaker is a great community and if we all help and we all contribute, this will be wonderful,” Wilson said. “The outcome was spectacular. This will make a change in the community for the better.”
To get the word out about the event, the Community Building Committee used a Facebook Event, distributed flyers and posters, made announcements and contacted coaches of sports teams, clubs and the International Baccalaureate track.
“We are excited about how successful it was, given that it is 9 degrees outside, and I know a lot of people would much rather stay at home in bed. We are just so excited that people decided to come out and do this with us. It’s very encouraging for us to know that the high school kids and their families really want to help and do things together,” Hamilton said.
“I’ve always had my children involved in community service,” said Sharyn Lowenkamp, a Shaker parent. “It was a great event, I’m glad so many people came out.”
“The energy made me want to come even more,” said sophomore Bethany Lowenkamp. “A lot of people want to help and they want to reach out to other people, they want to come together.”
Sharyn and Bethany expressed interest in attending other service events.
“I’m excited for what the future has in store, how we can make a bigger impact in this community and reach out to those in need,” said Wilson. “This [turnout] says that we are united. We are strong. We are determined. We are Shaker. We are powerful. We can make a change. We don’t have to be just sports and grades, although those are important aspects of school life, we can be a positive change in our world. Starting with this school! Yes, we can make a difference.”