Millcreek Rotary donation helps Hillcrest students make blankets for refugeesFeb 03, 2022 03:39PM ● By Julie Slama
Hillcrest High National Honors Society members spend time after school together tying blankets for refugees. (Julie Slama/City Journals)
By Julie Slama | [email protected]
Spread on the floor of a meeting room were dozens of two layers of fleece being knotted together.
The double-thick fleece blankets, with animal prints and bold designs, were being tied by Hillcrest High National Honors Society members to give to Helping Hands International, a refugee program that helps refugees locally and abroad.
Three hundred dollars was donated for fleece to make about 50 blankets by Millcreek Rotary, said National Honors Society adviser Su Veenstra.
The effort was made to provide blankets for the organization as well as for members to engage in the activity and work together on it, she said.
“It’s a way for them to get to know each other and have fun providing service,” Veenstra said, adding that each National Honors Society member is expected to provide at least 10 hours of service each school quarter.
The club’s president, Ryan Chen, said that he hoped students would become more engaged in service through this effort, not just buy something to donate.
“It’s more fun when you can do service together,” the high school senior said. “It’s enjoyable and motivates us to want to do more. It’s especially great to do together after last year when everything went virtual.”
The idea of making blankets to serve Helping Hands International came about from juniors Leslie Andrade and Kenna Seegmiller.
“Helping Hands International is helping a lot of refugees from the Middle East, who aren’t prepared for winter here, so we thought this was a way we can help,” said Andrade, who serves as the chapter’s tutoring officer. “By working together, this means more, and we’re doing something good for our community.”
Seegmiller, who serves as the chapter secretary, said at first, they held a donation drive, but only received three blankets. So, they rethought their process and decided engagement was a key factor. About 35 students came to tie 50 blankets.
“It’s easier to participate when it’s engaging and you’re showing that you really care,” she said.
Andrade said that the chapter is also involved in other service projects such as backpack drives, tutoring at nearby Copperview Elementary, teaming up with the school’s Earth Club to pick up trash along the school’s Adopt-a-Highway, holding peer tutoring at the school, and helping read books for refugee children.
The latter program is part of the Reading with Puppets program; Chen got involved with it during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Chen is working alongside juniors Priyanka Mathews and Amber Parker, who both serve on the school’s National Honors Society chapter and on the Draper Library Teen Advisory Board. The two slated dates in late January at the library for the community as well as students to videotape themselves reading books that then will be shared with refugee school children. They also will be accepting book donations for the youngsters.
“It’s a good way to get people involved,” chapter vice president Mathews said. “We’ve reached out to all the National Honors Society chapters in the area as well as PTSA chapters, and we’re hoping it will be a big community event.”
Parker, who serves as Hillcrest’s NHS public relations officer, said that the service projects the National Honors Society performs goes to its core: “We are wanting to help our community and at the same time, we’re learning leadership skills and working together.”
Parker was one of three chapter members who received a scholarship to participate earlier this school year in the Rotary leadership weekend to benefit the National Honors Society chapter.