Smith’s CAS Project Collects Backpacks for Homeless Shelter

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Abby Wittler, Staff Writer, Advanced Journalism

Throughout the month of November senior Jessa Smith held a backpack and bike lock drive to collect items for the guests at St. John’s Homeless Shelter.

She chose to collect these items because these are important items seldom donated to the facility. They are necessities to homeless men and women because they need to be able to carry their belongings with them.

Many of them also travel by bike and end up having the bikes stolen because they do not have bike locks.

“We received over 50 backpacks, which exceeded our expectations. I just recently dropped them off at the Micah Center, and they were very excited that the drive went so well,” said Smith about the results of the drive.

They had less success with the bike locks, but the backpacks were really the main focus, according to Smith.

This drive came about as a result of Smith’s CAS project, a service requirement for the IB Diploma. Having volunteered at St. John’s since her freshman year, she believed that it was fitting to reach out to the shelter in a different way.

“The CAS project involves community, activity and service,” Smith explained.

Although Smith initiated this project independently, she worked with administration, Campus Minister Daniel Kriegl and the theology teachers to help plan and complete the  collection.

The most rewarding part for her was dropping the items off at the Micah Center. Smith said, “It made me happy to know that our student body was able to give gifts to the shelter that will be used and appreciated this holiday season.”

Her favorite part of the drive was working with all of the people to organize the drive.  She felt empowered as a teenager being able to work with professionals to benefit the less fortunate in the community.

The biggest challenge of this drive was spreading the word and keeping it fresh in students’ minds. She attempted to keep the donations flowing by pushing the project in the written announcements, reminding peers and asking the theology teachers to talk to their students about it.