BHS Driven group helps launch Love’s holiday program
By Jennifer Eisenbart
For the last few years, the Burlington High School Driven students have been met by something unpleasant when they’ve gone out for the leadership program’s Christmas project.
Mainly, below-freezing temperatures and anything from sleet to snow to bright sunshine accompanying those temps.
So, with the program moved up a few weeks this year to better accommodate the needs of Love Inc. – the agency the students work with to raise funds and package holiday gifts for the service project – temperatures in the 40s and 50s last Friday were greeted with open arms.
“That makes it a lot easier,” said junior Patrick Davis. Lacey Scherrer added, “Last year, it was freezing.
“I think it gets you more excited,” she added. “You’re focused more on spreading the cheer and having fun.”
Not that the BHS Driven students have ever needed extra incentive in the “having fun” department. Since the leadership program first started a few years ago with the ringing of bells for monetary donations and helping Love Inc. put together holiday gift boxes for families, students seem to have mastered the skill of “whistling while they work.”
Singing and dancing students greet customers at various businesses around Burlington and Waterford, while this year, students created a fort – complete with sword-fighting defenders, a fireplace and a Christmas tree – inside Love Inc. where they assembled hundreds of gift boxes for the organization.
“Being able to be productive at the same time as being cheerful and positive, I think they feed off of each other in a positive loop,” said Matt Nie, who along with Matt Behringer, supervises the leadership program.
Originally founded on the idea of creating a group of students to help freshman make the transition from middle school to high school, the leadership program now has two major service projects each year.
The kickoff, of course, is the Christmas drive. The second is the community Easter Egg Hunt on the Burlington High School tennis courts in the spring.
Right now, there are 114 high school students in the program, ranging from sophomores to seniors – all of whom fit the bill from guiding freshman into the high school to being out in the community raising money.
“It’s really awesome,” said Hannah Wills. “We get to make an impact we wouldn’t be able to make outside of Driven.
“And we really are making an impact, not only in our school, but in our community as well.”
Traditionally, the group has raised anywhere between $1,000 and $2,000 ringing the bells for Love Inc., money the organization’s executive director says is always needed.
“It really kicked it off in fine style,” said Executive Director Bill Schoessling. “(They’re) a big help all the way around.”
And the students love being able to get out into the community and help.
“I like getting out of school and actually getting involved,” Davis said, “not just talking about it.”
It’s progressed so far that students are now creating their own community service projects, said Nie. One of those students, Rosie Uhen, is hoping to make a flight to deliver school supplies to an Indian reservation next year.
“It’s just amazing what the students are coming up with now,” Nie said.
Of course, about the only problem the organization is facing is numbers – and not too few. With the number now well over 100, Nie is at a loss of how to keep the program within its functional limits. Right now, students need to have three teacher recommendations, a 3.0 grade-point average and undergo leadership training to participate.
“At some point here, I think we’re going to have to demand underwater basket weaving, or what’s your background in rappelling and working with the Sherpas,” said Nie, “because they constantly exceed our expectations.”
How you can help
With more than 600 families seeking assistance on a monthly basis, the holiday season is the time of greatest need for Love Inc., an independent local social service agency. Love needs help in many forms – from volunteers to ring bells for the Red Kettle campaign to monetary donations. To help, call the agency at (262) 763-6226.