Several groups of students in leadership class at Crescent Heights High School have spent the school year making over 200 blankets to donate to numerous local charities.
“I’ve always been a big believer in volunteerism,” says Heather McCaig, teacher at CHHS. “I used to be a social studies teacher and part of the social studies curriculum was learning to be a good citizen. In my mind, to be a good citizen, you give back to the community.”
McCaig developed the leadership class after attending a conference in 2005. She had the idea to bring a class of leadership into the timetable, with one of its main concepts being volunteerism. The class is available to all students Grades 7-12, with no need to take it successively.
In previous years, the leadership classes serviced many different industries in Medicine Hat.
“We have helped at the women’s shelter; mailing letters as well as yard work,” said McCaig. “We typically go to seniors residences and play games with the residents and we do mentorship workshops with elementary-aged kids from Webster Niblock. We have gone to work at Prairie Gleaners to cut vegetables for them and help them with their food sustainability project. We’ve worked at seniors home and done yard work for them. We’ve made kits for homeless people, including a handwritten card and socks and shampoo.”
Grade 10 student Emily Maxwell is taking the class for the first time this year.
“I feel really good,” said Maxwell. “It kind of boosted my confidence. This made me feel really good because I felt like I was actually contributing something to the city and helping out a bit more.”
McCaig says she has tried to continue the programming for the class despite COVID, but they have had to think of new ways to service and be creative in their volunteering.
“We have partnered with Mook Fabrics, who gave us a discount on fabric, to get the material for the blankets,” said McCaig. “We made fleece tie blankets. We have made them for the Ronald McDonald House, the pediatric and maternity ward at the hospital and the Medicine Hat News Santa Claus Fund. We also did a set of large blankets that went to the Addictions Recovery Center.”
Students have enjoyed the blanket project, despite the fact it is not the same as getting out into the community.
“It was just a really fun project to do at home (after a classmate tested positive),” said Kylee Crawford, a Grade 10 student who has taken the class every year since Grade 7. “I would listen to music and work. We had to measure, cut and tie the blanket. The tying was pretty hard, but it was very fun.”
Deanna Doerksen, executive director of the Santa Claus Fund, expressed appreciation for the leadership classes.
“The leadership team at Crescent Heights High School has been involved with Santa Claus Fund in so many ways and so many different capacities over the years,” said Doerksen. “But this year, when they couldn’t come in and help, we were just so thankful that they took the time and the energy and learned how to make these beautiful blankets. We have lots of families with young babies that are in need of supplies and so this was something that was not only beautiful but really needed by the charity and we’ve just felt so very lucky to receive that generous donation.”
“I will definitely take this stuff into the real world,” said Maxwell. “It’s good to learn, it shows compassion to others. Volunteering and helping others is always important and it’s something I would like to bring to the rest of the world.”
Lauren Thomson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Medicine Hat News