At Ashley Academy, the holiday season is where the virtues of thankfulness and generosity intersect.
Students at the school have a character trait the focus on each month during the school year. November is thankfulness and December is generosity. Last week, students from kindergarten through eighth grade took turns filing into the gym and putting their thankfulness into action by sorting clothing that will be given to homeless students in the Johnson City School System and children whose families are served by the Isaiah 117 House.
“This was something that came to our attention, that the Kiwanis Club was collecting pajamas and items, so we thought it would be great for us as a school to be able to add to that any way we can,” said Ramona Harr, Headmaster of Ashley Academy. “We appreciate the Kiwanis Club as well as the Johnson City School System allowing our students to participate in this so we’re able to train them to see the needs of those around them. It requires them to recognize the needs of the community.”
The Kiwanis Club collects children’s socks, pajamas and underwear from holiday shoppers each year outside of TJ Maxx. Those items are brought to Ashley Academy where students add hygiene items and soft toys they’ve collected to the donations the Kiwanis Club brings in. Then the students help sort all the items and prepare them to be distributed to local children in need.
The lion’s share of the donations will go to the Johnson City School System’s Homeless Children’s Program. Sydnee DeBusk heads up the program, and she said the need for basic clothing items among the students in the city’s 12 schools is much greater than most people realize. Last year the Homeless Children’s Program served 450 students.
“There’s a lot of students that are homeless that we don’t care for because they don’t come forward and ask our assistance,” said DeBusk, who took over the program this year following the retirement of Bonnie White. “A lot of the older kids are really good at hiding it, but the little guys will just flat-out tell you what’s going on. It’s a huge problem in our area, but thankfully we have a lot of resources in our area that can come in and tackle the problem and try to fix it as much as we can.”
Anyone wishing to make donations to the Homeless Children’s Program can reach DeBusk at Central Office by calling 423.434.5200.