Clothes, cards, and chew toys: students donate through class service projects


Aanya Kabra and Eunice Chen

Aanya Kabra (9) (left) and Eunice Chen (9) (right) design cards to send to the Signature Healthcare of Memphis. Class projects encourage student involvement within school activities and in the community.

The Memphis community has shaped students; now it is time for them to give back. Each grade will hold donation drives throughout February to collect items for the Memphis Union Mission, the Humane Society of Memphis and Signature Healthcare of Memphis. 

“It’s important for people to get involved and give back to the community because we get so much out of the community,” Madeline Bray (11), junior vice president, said. “A lot of us have gotten to where we are in life because of the people we grew up around and the environment we were in.”

Homeless shelters such as the Memphis Union Mission continue to serve the community amidst the COVID-19 crisis. As the temperature continues to drop, the need for warm clothes rises. 

The sophomore class is collecting winter apparel, such as coats, gloves and hats. Alongside the sophomores, the junior class is collecting hygiene products and COVID-19 supplies for guests at the Memphis Union Mission.

“We chose this project because we knew a lot of homeless shelters and humane shelters that help people out were struggling a lot because of a big influx of people this year,” Bray said. 

For those experiencing homelessness, a fresh set of clothes can provide self-esteem and open doors to more opportunities. 

“It’s hard for people to get jobs without being cleaned up,” Bray said. 

Animal shelters are also experiencing a strain due to the coronavirus with an overflow of animals. Peter McKissak (12), senior president, noticed this issue and organized a donation drive for the Humane Society of Memphis. Seniors are collecting toys, food and other animal supplies to help the furry friends.

“Animals are probably struggling as much as we are around these times, so we decided to do something for man’s best friend,” McKissack said. 

Shelters provide sanctuary to both humans and animals. With donations, guests can enjoy a better stay and a brighter future. 

As virtual learning continues, students tend to get caught up in school and can be trapped in their personal bubbles. To show appreciation towards hardworking healthcare workers, the freshmen are creating “Cards for COVID.” Filled with words of gratitude and encouragement, these cards will be sent to the Signature Healthcare of Memphis. 

“From this project, we’re hoping students will learn how important these jobs are and how to give back to the community and that something as small as a card can make someone’s day a lot better,” Aanya Kabra (9), freshman president, said. “We wanted to show appreciation to all the healthcare workers who put themselves at risk every day to help others struggling with the pandemic.” 

Each year, class service projects are held to benefit the community as well as enrich students themselves. Volunteering can build students’ social skills, involvement with their community and understanding of others’ needs. 

“I hope that students will learn to be less selfish and to help others who might be less fortunate than how we have it at White Station,” Bella Tichenor (10), sophomore vice president, said. 

Along with improving personal skills, class projects bring grades together. They build connections between students and create memories. A service project may not make up for the lost year caused by COVID-19, but working towards a collective goal can unite and reward students. 

“[Service projects] build camaraderie amongst the class because there’s a lot of us at the school and being able to come together and do something together is important for creating growth and connection,” McKissak said. “At some point, we’re all going to part our ways, and being able to hold memories together is one of the main ideals of these class projects.”

Friends, acquaintances and strangers alike are creating a meaningful, positive impact on the community by serving homeless Memphians, animals and healthcare workers. Not only will students leave a mark on Memphis, but also on themselves. 

“I hope they’ll learn the value of giving back to the community and the value of helping people out with the goodness of their hearts,” Bray said.