Ombudsman students show Christmas spirit by donating to shelter (Cartersville, Ga.)

Date: December 23, 2014

A group of Bartow County students experienced true Christmas spirit when they chose to give rather than receive.

For two weeks, 31 students attending Ombudsman Educational Services/Cartersville Learning Center collected personal-hygiene items, pantry items, cleaning supplies, canned food and clothing, and delivered eight to 10 large boxes and bags Friday to the 28 guests living at the Good Neighbor Shelter in Cartersville.

“I think our students learned that the holiday season is more about giving and helping others than receiving gifts,” center Director Chris Masters said, noting most students participated in some way. “Sometimes when you think you have it bad, there is always someone out there who has it worse than you do.”

The students at Ombudsman, which partnered with the Cartersville City School System to provide an alternative education program for middle and high school students who are in credit recovery, dropout prevention or dropout recovery, decided to do a community project to help one of their own.

“We have had a student that was living in the shelter attend Ombudsman each of the last two years,” Masters said. “After reading an article in the paper about the Good Neighbor Shelter, we proposed the idea to some of the students about working with them as our community project for the year. They thought it would be a good way to give back to the community and help others who were less fortunate.”

Students, ranging from seventh-graders to 12th-graders, went shopping for items to donate or brought in things from their own homes, and some collected donations from family members and neighbors, Masters said.

“The students slowly started bringing in items two weeks ago, but most waited until the last three days [of the project], bringing in many items and bags of clothing,” he said.

Masters said he and his staff of two full-time teachers and one part-time teacher were “thrilled with the effort the students put out in collecting items for the shelter.”

“I was a little apprehensive at first about the students’ commitment when items were just trickling in during the first few days, but they came through in a big way the last couple of days and exceeded our expectations,” he said. “They did a wonderful job.”

While the students are not required to participate in the project, most of them were “eager to help out others in their community,” the director said.
“Community involvement is an integral part of the education of our students, and being involved in a service project like this is one way of giving back to the city of Cartersville and Bartow County,” he said.

Jessica Mitcham, executive director of Good Neighbor, said she was thankful for the students’ donations to the shelter, which can serve 30 people at a time.

“Good Neighbor House gets very little government funding so we depend on the community to give not only financially but also to collect things to donate,” she said. “Any time we get donations from groups like the Ombudsman program, it’s a huge help to our organization and helps our guests so they can go out each day to look for work and to be working.”

Ombudsman offers academic, social and behavioral support so students earn their high school diplomas and are prepared to make positive choices about the future, Masters said.

It offers a flexible schedule with morning and afternoon sessions “so students don’t have to choose between life and school,” he said.

“Ombudsman utilizes a number of research-based curriculum resources to deliver its instructional model,” he said. “Initial and ongoing teacher-led instruction is tailored to ensure each student earns the necessary credits to arrive at graduation in accordance with his or her success plan. Ombudsman’s rigorous and relevant academic programs are accredited by AdvancED and aligned to Common Core and state-specific standards.”

The Daily Tribune-News

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