Hope is an important concept at both Pickerington high schools.
Each school has a group called Club Hope, and although the meanings and missions are different, both are driven by a desire to help others, particularly those affected by cancer.
At Pickerington High School North, Club Hope – Helping others find hope, Opportunity to make a difference, Pride in your community, Endurance to overcome obstacles – was originally known as Nellie’s Club. It worked with Nellie’s Catwalk for Kids, a central Ohio nonprofit that works to make life easier for families affected by pediatric cancer.
Today, the club is an opportunity for Pickerington students to get hands-on volunteering and fundraising experience in an effort to give the community a better tomorrow, says Sarah Whitcraft, the club’s faculty adviser.
“It’s what Pickerington promotes – they want you out there doing community service and getting involved in the community, but not necessarily through (groups) like the (National Honor Society) or some of the clubs where you have to have the highest GPA,” Whitcraft says. “It’s for kids who might not be the strongest (academically), but still want to go out and make an impact on the community.”
At the start of the 2012-13 school year, the club had 200 members, says Abby Shalawylo, last year’s club president.
“Anyone can join,” she says. “Hope relates to everybody, so it’s easy to get people interested and involved because it affects everyone.”
Club Hope has expanded the scope of its assistance beyond pediatric cancer to
people affected by deaths in the family, suicide and financial need.
Last year, the club held a bake sale and sold yellow “hope” bandanas, raising $1,000 for the Make-a-Wish Foundation, at a North football game. The game even hosted a child from the foundation who told his story during halftime.
“That event was so neat because we really did get the whole school in on it and the community (as well),” Shalawylo says. “It was the whole community … involved and right there with us.”
The club has also held an Easter egg hunt that raised $850 for Blue Star Mothers, an organization for women who have sons or daughters serving in the military, and helped the organization send care packages and cards to troops and veterans.
The club is about more than just fundraising and volunteering, says incoming president Kenna Scaife – it also provides experiences that are beneficial to students, such as helping families at the Ronald McDonald house.
“The best thing is that you can actually see what you’re helping,” Scaife says.
At Pickerington High School Central, Club Hope – Helping Others Protecting Each other – is in its third year. It is also directed at raising money and awareness of cancer, says Erin Salzer, the club’s faculty adviser.
“I’ve been the adviser the entire time, and just to see how this club has taken off and grown has been nothing but amazing,” Salzer says.
The club has raised money for the James Cancer Hospital at The Ohio State University and volunteered at the Ronald McDonald House.
“Our group has really good kids and they have really good hearts,” says Brittany Hardyman, club president.
The club had more than 80 members in its first year, and it’s continued to be popular among students, says Hardyman.
“There’s a genuine purpose within the group that students want to be a part of, and that transpires within the school and within the community,” Salzer says.
The club raised $1,700 for the Stefanie Spielman Fund at the James at a Central football game last year selling pink T-shirts, bracelets and charms. Donors were encouraged to write the names of people they know who had breast cancer on pink and white balloons, which were released at kickoff.
With help from the school’s basketball team, the club started an awareness game, Hoops for Hope, which three cancer survivors attended. Club Hope will be collaborating with the Make-A-Wish Foundation for next year’s basketball awareness game, Hardyman says.
“I think Club Hope probably had the most student interaction within our school,” she says. “Even the teachers, the staff and our administration are awesome. Our administration always approves everything and they’re very cooperative. Our community, too.”
On March 16, the two clubs joined forces with National Honor Society and Student Council for a night of activities at North called Rave to Save. Their combined fundraising efforts produced a $10,380 donation for the Nationwide Children’s Hospital Miracle Network.
“The cross interaction between the groups at both high schools is just nothing short of heartwarming and overwhelming at times, to see the efforts that everyone puts into it,” Salzer says.
Brandon Klein is a contributing writer. Feedback welcome at firstname.lastname@example.org.