Kids learn to be givers

Luci Tucker’s gifted students at Thompson Middle School are giving back.

After requiring her students to read “The Giver,” by Lois Lowry, over the summer, Tucker had the kids come up with several volunteer projects they wanted to do throughout the year.

In “The Giver,” kids must do volunteer work, and Tucker felt the lesson was a great segue to teach her students the importance of volunteer work.

“Helping out in the community is what I wanted to instill in these kids,” Tucker said. “I think it is valuable to get the community involved, and connect these kids with the community.”

Throughout the school year, Tucker’s students completed four projects: creating a recycling program, collecting food for the United Way, purchasing phone cards for deployed soldiers and donating hair to Locks of Love.

The kids started off the year with the recycling program, seeking help from Thompson High School Green Club members and sponsor Col. Eldon Woodie.

“The recycling program has been a widely successful program,” Tucker said. “These kids realize that if they don’t take care of their environment, who will?”

The next project the kids tackled was collecting food during the holidays for families in need. The students were able to collect more than 400 pounds of food.

During January and February, the kids sold candy to raise money to purchase phone cards for soldiers currently deployed overseas.

The kids raised more than $900 for phone cards.

Tucker said the project was especially relevant because several students currently have military parents that are currently deployed.

“To get that opportunity to talk to each other on the phone is special to them,” Tucker said. “Middle school is a tough time and to get that opportunity to speak to a parent that cannot be here is special.”

Tucker said the phone card project was not only well received by her students, but also by the entire school.

“Not only are my students leading the project, but the whole school is buying into it, as well,” Tucker said. “At the end of the project, we just had kids giving money, not for the candy, but just to donate it to the soldiers.”

The last project the class tackled was donating hair to Locks of Love, an organization that provides hairpieces to children under the age of 18 who are suffering from long-term medical hair loss.

In order for the students to donate their hair, they had to be able to cut off 10 inches.

Several students, who had grown their hair all year long, had their hair cut Monday to complete the project, including Kendyl Carr, 12; Ashton Bowles, 12; and Bailey Godette, 12.

“There are so many kids that don’t have hair because of alopecia and other diseases, so why don’t we donate our hair?” said Godette.

Tucker also joined the kids in donating her hair.

“I can’t expect the girls to do it if I don’t,” Tucker said.

Tucker plans to continue the project with next year’s classes, perhaps taking on projects with the animal shelter and Heifer International, an organization that supplies farms in impoverished countries with livestock.

But the kids will determine which projects are completed next year.

“I let the kids brainstorm ideas of what they want to do,” Tucker said. “I have no idea what next year’s group will come up with, but whatever it is, I’m ready.”