Do Good December project dealt setbacks

Michael D. Smith

Ardmore High School’s leadership class launched a successful donation drive last year that collected thousands of items for the community’s youngest and oldest in need. Dubbed “Do Good December,” dozens of students in the class collected, organized, stored and distributed items donated by third-hour classes. 

“The students have been very involved,” said Chauvin Aaron, who teaches the leadership class that is undertaking the Chick-fil-a service project for a second year. His class has teamed up with a colleague's management class to coordinate collection efforts across the school.

A donation box sit outside of the Ardmore High School main entrance Friday. Organizers of the annual Do Good December project are hoping community members can fill gaps in donations left by the pandemic.

Students are heavily involved, having called the Children’s Shelter and area nursing homes to learn what items were needed for this year’s collection They still have through Monday to collect and organize donated items from classrooms across campus before distributing items later this month. 

But Aaron said engagement with the entire student body and faculty to inspire donations has been difficult. With entire classes utilizing distance learning, few opportunities to drum up support remain on campus. 

“That’s why right now, a lot of our donations are down. So we’re hoping that the community can step in,” he said, estimating about a quarter of the amount of donations compared to the previous drive. Thousands of donated items last year have been reduced to just hundreds this year.

Some community members outside of the school have already stepped in. With a large gift of requested lip balm from an individual and a donation of stationery from Staples, Aaron said requests for nursing home residents also included socks, blankets, lotion, body wash and tissues.

Ardmore High School leadership teacher Chauvin Aaron points at stationary and hand sanitizer donated by Staples in Ardmore for his class's annual Do Good December project.

Other popular items for the four nursing homes and assisted living facilities include memory care items like puzzles and games. The drive is also collecting food items for the Community Children’s Center.

The challenges are significantly different this year, but student organizers are making headway. Jessica Johnson, a junior who is working on the project, said the class has asked for help reaching students on Google Classrooms to remind other students.

“It is harder this year because we have a lot of teachers out, over half of the students are out and nobody really knows about it,” she said.

Lasandra Mosley, also a junior, agreed that the pandemic has caused outreach extremely difficult. “Covid kind of made it a little harder because most of the students stayed virtual after we came back,” Mosley said.

Ximena Martinez described a point system for donations meant to encourage third-hour classes to collect the most. The class with the most points is awarded a Chick-fil-a breakfast and Martinez said participation last year was so impressive, two classes ended up winning the top award.

Jessica Johnson, Ximena Martinez and Lasandra Mosley sort through donations Friday. The high school juniors are among organizers of Do Good December, which is experiencing far fewer donations because of reduced attendance on campus.

Extra effort put in by organizers this year seems to be paying off. A woman dropped off canned goods and other grocery items at the school on Friday afternoon, saying her daughter asked her to deliver them to her teacher. 

Aaron said he has also driven to students’ homes to collect donations. “So even if they’re not physically here they can still be a part of this program,” he said.

While donations are down significantly from last year, students remain optimistic and know their actions will truly do good this December. Johnson, Martinez and Mosley are not necessarily hoping for one person making a big donation, but rather many people making a big difference.

“If everyone donates just one thing, no matter what it is, it would really help,” Johnson said.

“One can matters,” Mosley interjected.

“It’s a dinner,” replied Martinez.

Donations can be left in the drop box at the Ardmore High School entrance by Monday, or Aaron said anyone interested in donating can call (580) 221-3001, extension 2412, and leave a voicemail.