Helping hands cross county borders: Middletown students learn about community service

Middletown Elementary School Student Council members Cora Rauser, left, of Stephens City and Kate Guntang, right, of Middletown, both 11, sort through donated items that the school collected Tuesday for Family Promise in Woodstock. Rich Cooley/Daily

Middletown Elementary School students participating in a Student Council community service project collected 19 boxes of items Tuesday  for homeless families.

Family Promise of Shenandoah County, an organization helping the families, arrived at the Frederick County school to pick up the boxes filled with personal hygiene items like shampoo, conditioner and body wash and other products.  The 21 students involved in the project helped load up a small trailer with the donations.

Family Promise offers shelter to homeless families in Shenandoah County and the surrounding counties. Its goal is to keep families together and help them find homes, jobs and other resources. It is supported by local churches and from donations.

Galatea Badger, a counselor at the elementary school, had asked her mother Ellen Fairchild-Flugel, who sits on the Family Promise board, to come in and speak to the students about the organization and its mission.

“I told them how we helped kids stay with their family,” Fairchild-Flugel said. “You educate the kids about service and how lifelong service is important.”

Students at Middletown Elementary School learned about community service Tuesday by collecting items to help make the lives of homeless families a little easier. Melissa Topey/Daily

She said many of the kids knew families who were homeless.

Kate Guntang and Cora Rauser, both age 11 and fifth-graders, have sat on Student Council for two years.

“Three times a year we vote on a community service project,” Cora said.  This time they selected Family Promise.

Kate added:  “I think it’s important to get things for the homeless.  They can’t choose whether they are homeless or not. “

The students helped promote the fundraising effort in their school. Every classroom was given a laminated piece of paper with a flower on it and, for every two items donated, the class received a petal. The teacher of the classroom with the most petals had to wear a hat covered in flowers for the day. Fourth-grade teacher Carolyn Sanner donned the hat after her class collected 88 items.

Staff at Family Promise of Shenandoah County, which is headquartered in Woodstock, will go through the donated items and hand them out to those in need.