H.E.L.P. Club Forges New Connections with Community Groups

The Depew High School H.E.L.P. (Having Empowered Leaders as Peers) Club forged two new community relationships with Reality Check and the Matt Urban HOPE Center.

 During the 2016-17 school year, students in the club became active in the Reality Check, Tobacco Free WNY program sponsored by Roswell Park. Under the direction of club advisor Jennifer Hatfield, the group researched tobacco laws and retailers, petitioned marketing, did a neighborhood clean-up of cigarette butts and sponsored the first Kick-Butt Kickball tournament. The other new community connection and the focus of much of the club's work was with the Matt Urban HOPE Center, who provides countless services for the chronically homeless. After a visit from Director Joyelle Tedeschi describing what they do, students were inspired and began working to help. One project that sprang from Mrs. Tedeschi's visit were Birthday Bags so a child (or adult) at the center would be able to receive a gift on their birthday. 

Students collected warm clothing items and gifts at the holidays. They brought in clothing and toy donations from their own homes throughout the year. One student, Annabell Dietz, even arranged a pick up at her house they had so much to donate. Students made chocolates and treats for the Christmas dinner at the Urban Diner along with spring centerpieces. The money raised through the H.E.L.P. Homeless Sleepout was donated to the Matt Urban HOPE Center.

 The club began the Birthday Bag collection for the center. Students purchased and donated countless items to fill birthday gift bags so children and adults at the center could receive a gift on their birthday. The birthday bags was something the center has wanted to develop for some time.

"H.E.L.P. stands for Having Empowered Leaders as Peers and I believe empowering our students to know that they have power to make positive change in the world, that they can make a difference, is one of the best lessons we can teach them," said Mrs. Hatfield.

 Within the school district, the club acts as peer educators at the seventh-grade health and wellness days. They host the Homeless Sleepout, sponsor the teacher appreciation breakfast, and assist with several leadership events. This year was one of the club's most active yet.

"Students had the opportunity to experience the joy of helping those less fortunate and many went out of their way to give what they could of time, belongings and compassion," said Mrs. Hatfield. "I am confident that moving forward we will continue to develop these community connections and inspire our students to be active members of the volunteer community."