An effort to get clothing, medical supplies, toys and other items to those in need in other parts of the United States and the world is getting a lot of local help from students at two local high schools.
Girard and Liberty High Schools, along with teachers, parents and community volunteers spent time helping to load hundreds of boxed and bagged clothing and other items into large semi-trucks as part of the local ''Poorest of the Poor'' program organized by the Girard-Liberty Rotary Club.
S.P. Wright of Brookfield, chairman of Poorest of the Poor, said the local Rotary has volunteers helping to collect donations for Appalachia and Haiti.
During the month of March, there will be a summer clothing drive by the Rotary at local schools. Other clubs will also be helping with the effort.
"This is the first we have two school systems working together," Wright said,
He said donations have come from the community, retired teachers' groups and senior citizen groups, with volunteer help from Girard football players, Robotics teams, National Honor Society, Teen Institute and other teen groups.
Recently, 30 to 40 students and teachers from Girard and Liberty came together at the Poorest of the Poor warehouse in Liberty.
Judy Barber, a Girard English teacher and robotics team advisor, said the robotics team and the National Honor Society are required to do community service. The Robotics needs 25 hours per year and the National Honor Society perform service throughout the year.
Lindsay Snyder, a Girard senior and robotics team and NHS member, said this was the third time for her to help Poorest of the Poor.
"I like doing this because you feel good knowing you are helping those who are less fortunate," Snyder said, adding she was glad the event was held after being canceled twice before due to snow.
She said the teens got in a line and worked as an assembly line each handing off from person to person the bags filled with clothes.
Alisa Cario, a Girard senior, said it was a good idea with everyone sharing the responsibilities at the storage unit.
"You feel like you are making a difference helping people," Cario said.
Wright said the people receiving the items are very appreciative. He said once someone needed a suit for a job and it came from the local donations.
Girard School Superintendent Joseph Jeswald said the youth stay very involved with community service projects and for several years have been part of the Poorest of the Poor, with items shipped in other parts of the country and to the Dominican Republic.
The local effort receives help from the Girard High School athletics, National Honor Society and the robotics club in loading and unloading trucks and preparing shipments.
"It's a Rotary project, and we are proud of the students. It's a great opportunity for our kids to learn the value of helping others," Jeswald said.
Wright said for the local effort there were 1,000 bags weighing 35 pounds each and a few boxes.
Wright estimates that 200,000 pounds of clothing and medical supplies are sent annually.
Rachele Costarella, a junior in NHS, said it is great opportunity for community service. The students enjoy reaching out and helping those need it .
Anna Britt, a junior, said she didn't expect there would be so many bags to load onto the truck. "It's been exciting donating and helping others," she said.
Wright said the average group of clothing since weighs 50,000 pounds. The Youngstown Air Base sends the items out on Air Force C-130 planes which are designed primarily to transport cargo.
Wright organized the Poorest of the Poor program to help fight poverty. The international poverty relief project collects and distributes clothing, medical equipment, toys, dry goods and toiletries for underprivileged people all over the world.
Poorest of the Poor works on breaking the cycle of poverty by enabling recipients to boost their self esteem so they can go to school or get a job and change their and others' lives of others in their family or community,
Wright has sent items to Appalachia, Native American reservations, El Salvador, India and Argentina.
For donations or more information, call 330-448-4432.