By Erica Wright
The Birmingham Times
Students with the Hearts of Horizons Civitan Service Club collected 224 pounds of canned and dry foods and $370 for the Community Food Bank of Central Alabama earlier this month.
The club is part of The Horizons School, which prepares young adults with learning difficulties for an independent life. The school partnered with Civitan International, a Birmingham based organization of volunteer service clubs, to establish the Horizons Civitan Service Club earlier this year. There are about 21 student members and five staff members.
“It’s important for them to give back to the community,” said Anita Bosley, Manager of Development and Public Relations at Horizons.
The students complete a service project at least once a month but chose to donate to the Community Food Bank this time because a few of them had heard there was a shortage of food and they were concerned.
“We encourage them to keep up with current affairs and a couple of them had been hearing that the Community Food Bank [was] literally empty,” said Bosley. “You always think about it around Thanksgiving or Christmas, but they don’t have a lot of people thinking about them during the year and in the summer. So a couple of our students . . . said why don’t we do that for our last project of the school year?”
The students complete about 10 projects a year that include giving gifts during Christmas, a book drive for the Literacy Council of Alabama and feeding the homeless at Highland United Methodist Church.
For the community food bank project, the students divided into four teams and took boxes and fliers to their jobs, friends and family and they also encouraged people to make a monetary donation through the food bank’s website.
They spent about two weeks gathering food and money. According to the food bank, the students were able to provide 3,163 meals, because of their contributions.
“The project was a great success and students had a wonderful time with this project,” said Dr. Karen Dixon, assistant director of the Horizons School and leader of the service club.
It’s important for the students to give back because it impacts them in so many ways, Bosley said.
“It boosts their self-esteem and makes them feel like they are an important part of their community,” she said. “It shows that they are productive, they are valued because coming through school, many of them were bullied and didn’t have a lot of friends and were told they can’t do this or that and that’s how they’re judged. But, we have them here and we tell them you are blessed and you are talented and you are important and your community needs you.
Bosley added, “they realize they really are just as important and their time and talent is valuable; their self-esteem just starts climbing and you can see it. They love doing those projects and helping those people. They have big hearts.”
To learn more about The Horizons School, visit www.horizonsschool.org.