'Tis the season for giving, and Dempsey Middle School students took that to heart this month.
Students brought in 2,200 items for People in Need of Delaware County this holiday season.
This year, PIN recognized Dempsey Middle School as "School of the Year" after the Dempsey Student Council and Career-Based Intervention students donated their time to work on a schoolwide collection of items -- an annual event.
"We received the Most-Outstanding Support award because of the years of services our students have provided," said Nicki Wright, Career-Based Intervention coordinator. "It was great for the students to be recognized for their hard work."
Wright took her 17 students to the PIN headquarters Dec. 13 to sort the items that had been collected by Dempsey students and staff.
She also showed them the video from PIN's website featuring some of the people in Delaware County who receive goods and services from the organization.
"The kids were very receptive to this video. In fact, some of my students knew some of the people in the video," Wright said. "It was a great opportunity to explain that you see people every day and may have no idea they have a need."
Wright reiterated to the students that although they may not always have money or goods to donate, their time also is valuable.
"They have the skills and ability to give of their time, even if they can't donate food or money," she said.
Wright said one student who was having difficulty understanding the needs of some people responded with a desire to do more than just give food.
"It was neat to see my students, who had not before realized there was need, want to help," she said. "I also have other students who are struggling in their own homes, and it was nice for them to see others who are just like them and know that even if they're like that, they can still serve other people."
The Career-Based Intervention program is sponsored by the Delaware Area Career Center and is designed for career exploration and to help develop job skills in students.
"We are trying to get them motivated to look into the future so they can see why school is important," Wright said. "That's why we do so many extra things to spark a connection in them for what they want to do with their lives."
Wright said she is focused on developing 21st-century skills in her students and wants to give them opportunities to develop their communication and leadership skills.
"The purpose of (the Dec. 13) field trip isn't just to help sort items, but I am very intentional in what I do," she said. "I know the skills they struggle with and I make sure to put them in positions where they can grow in those skills."
Wright said a lot of her students don't participate in sports or clubs, so this is their opportunity to shine and build on their skills.
Wright said she puts students in "project manager" roles and has them lead their fellow classmates. She also has students who won't normally get along with others work in a group to learn how to communicate.
She said she wants students to understand that in the real world, they may not always like everyone they work with, but they are part of a team and need to learn to work together.
"They are learning soft skills that are transferable to any job they may get," Wright said. "Knowing how to be flexible and creative and be able to communicate is important if they're going to be a lawyer or an auto mechanic."