Southside students adopt families through Angels of Love

A team of educators and students from Southside Elementary worked together to aid two families through a holiday assistance program.

According to second grade teacher Charity Nordyke, the entire grade — five teachers and more than 100 students — participated in collecting and wrapping presents for the Angels of Love program.

“Angels of Love is a Christmas gift assistance program operated through the Lincoln-Central Family Neighborhood Center,” said Diane Doup, community outreach coordinator for the center.

“And annually, we serve approximately 700 children thanks to generous donors from across the community.”

She said that individuals, businesses, churches and schools have all been volunteer donors to the program over the years.

Nordyke had worked with the Angels of Love program before through her church and at Mt. Health Elementary School. She also previously taught at CSA Fodrea, where project-based learning was the norm, and wanted to incorporate “service learning” into a project for her Southside students.

“We were learning about being a leader in our reading series,” she said. “And so, we were looking for opportunities for our kids to become a leader in the community, to find a problem and to help solve it.”

She and the other second grade teachers decided that working with Angels of Love would be a great opportunity for their kids to practice problem-solving. They were also able to tie math into the cost of items and the measurements for wrapping.

Nordyke got in touch with Doup and asked if any of the Angels of Love families had kids who were in the second grade or younger, so that students would know what items to give them.

Doup gave the names of four kids from two different families — a newborn baby, a 1-year-old, a 5-year-old and a 7-year-old. They then came up with a list of items based on the families’ requested needs and wants, other needs they might have, and other items the students and teachers might want to give.

Students’ families were asked if they wanted to donate, and there was a sign-up sheet online so that they could pick the item they wanted to purchase.

”We suggested to families that either the student does a chore or some sort of task to kind of earn money to go to the store to buy the items, or if they didn’t want their child to do that, that when they went to go pick out the item, that the child does the choosing and … doesn’t pick out something for themselves as well — that it’s strictly just a giving and that they’re not getting, other than a sense of joy of helping someone else,” Nordyke said.

Once they had collected all of the items, students wrapped the presents with supervision from Southside staff.

The Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp. posted a video of this on social media, commenting “You don’t have to be a grown up to make a positive impact on the world.”

After the wrapping was done, Nordyke and another teacher sorted through the gifts and made sure they were labeled before she dropped them off at the center.

The students enjoyed the project, and they weren’t the only ones, Nordyke said.

“A lot of the parents were excited about the opportunity for their child to help give and think of others during this season,” she said.

“We were thrilled to get to partner with them,” said Doup. “Not only does it help us to fulfill the needs of children on our list, but I think it’s also a wonderful lesson for the students to reach out to others in the community.”