“Caught in the Act of Giving Back,” was founded by the GPFPE in 2015 in order to recognize student volunteer projects within the district. The intent of this program is to reinforce the importance of giving back to others and to inspire our students to become actively engaged in doing so.

Entries were submitted by building administrators.  Submissions were considered in three categories – elementary, middle school, and high school, with winners selected at each level. The level to which the project demonstrated leadership, a commitment to volunteerism, giving back, and community impact were the primary considerations when identifying the projects that receive recognition.

On May 21, 2018, the GPFPE recognized the winners.   The organizations that were the primary beneficiary of the winning students’ volunteer efforts received a financial award of approximately $250 to further advance and support their work.

The first program to be recognized this year was Refugee Assistance, “Notes of Hope,” originating at Maire Elementary.  This project was started and lead by Lucy Gabel.  She created it in order to assist the Rohingya refugees from Myanmar. In addition to writing approximately 30 “Notes of Hope” to the children in the refugee camps, Lucy and her fifth grade classmates raised $420 to purchase food packs.  Lucy’s mom was able to hand deliver the notes and the food packs (enough for over 42 families) in person on a recent visit to a refugee camp in Bangladesh.

A second elementary winner, “Hummingbird Fun Bags,” which also originated at Maire Elementary in 2017 by Ellie Sahutske, helps the siblings of extremely ill babies in the NICU.  Ellie set up a Facebook page and a GoFundMe campaign which she shared with her Maire community as well as at South, North, and Ford.  In the end, she raised $1,800.  She also collected new crayons and coloring books. She bundled these materials together with notes of cheer.  Thanks to her yearlong effort, she was able to create 1,016 bags which she happily donated to Beaumont Royal Oak.

The next winner, Gifts4Kids, was started by Sofia Guevara at Brownell Middle School.  Sofia wanted to do something special for the patients at Detroit’s Children’s Hospital who might not have the resources to celebrate the holidays. Sofia created posters and flyers to display at Brownell, as well as promoting the project on social media.  Students from Brownell, as well as the Brownell National Junior Honor Society, supported the project wholeheartedly.  Thanks to her hard work, Sofia was able to donate a large selection of books, games, and toys to Children’s Hospital and its patients.

The #HudsyStrong Skate-A-Thon also originated at Brownell.  The leaders of this project were M. Wysocki, M. Wysocki, Z. Crossley, O. Frye, L. Budeck, L. O’Halla, A. Applegate, K. Adams, and S. Krotche.  The purpose of this effort was to raise funds to help Hudson Brown, the son of two Brownell teachers, who is undergoing cancer treatment. So, they banded together, and with the support of the Brownell National Junior Honor Society, organized a skate-a-thon.  Approximately 75 families came to support the Browns and pen prayers and messages of hope.  When all was said and done, the girls were able to raise $1,335 for the family’s medical expenses and contribute numerous supportive messages.

The night’s final awardee was “Strong Girls and Strong Boys,” conceived and conducted by WILLOW at North High School. The purpose of this project was to help students at the elementary level develop stronger self-esteem, improved social skills, increase their physical activity, and reduce bullying, not to mention create excitement about becoming a future Norseman.  It was lead by eight girls and ten boys, with a total of 20 North student involved and all the fifth graders from Monteith, Poupard, Mason and Ferry.  In the words of Principal Kate Murray, this project “upholds many of the district’s and North’s goals.  It builds bridges across schools, fosters relationships, increases students’ skills and makes kids excited about school!”

It was a pleasure to have the opportunity to recognize each of these fine projects and the good works of our students.  Funding for this program was made possible by the Anne R. Hudson Endowment Fund of the GPFPE, held at the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan.