Friday, September 28, 2012

Cedar Ridge Academy Therapeutic Boarding School Students Plan Christmas Civic Service Project

During early Autumn, the students at Cedar Ridge Academy Therapeutic Boarding School begin to plan their involvement in the local annual Festival of the Trees. Setting aside some time from their regular academics, seniors who are working on the Academy's required Civic Service and Leadership credit put their hearts into planning how they will decorate a special Christmas tree.

Festival participants decorate an artificial tree that is then donated for auction to individuals, organizations, businesses, or church groups. This year, all funds raised will go to benefit local families in need.

The festival project offers two-fold benefits for the Cedar Ridge Academy students: the chance to open their hearts in empathy for others and the opportunity to develop organizational and leadership skills that will enhance their current abilities while helping prepare them for future success as contributing adults.

Last year, with an orphanage in mind, the students decorated a tree with warm children's clothing items such as mittens, scarves, and hats. Additional clothing was wrapped and placed under and around the tree as part of the package. All proceeds, including the individual gifts, were donated to an orphanage in Mexico.

After participating, one student wrote the following:

"Dear Kids,
Helping you by making a Christmas tree that fetched three thousand dollars so you have more money helped me by making me realize the value of hard work. In doing this whole project, I did many things, including putting sprinkles and glue on clothespins, putting those clothespins on clothing (like hats and gloves and scarves and mittens) to put on the tree, and put those in a box. By doing all of this hard work, I felt better about myself because I knew that I was doing something for someone else."

Another student wrote:

"We made this tree and collected all the gifts so that we can share some of our Christmas spirit with all of you. We were very touched to see that we were a part of something much larger than we might have imagined. We were shown that you guys were going to receive the gifts that we collected and it warmed our hearts to see that you guys are cared about by so many people. There are so many people that are here to support you and knowing that I am one of those helpers that care should be a good indication that I will not forget you guys."

This year, keeping in mind that both the auction proceeds and the gifts attached to the tree will be donated to families within the local community, Cedar Ridge Academy students decided to decorate with children's toys. As in past years, school staff and student's parents will donate items and funds to help make this community service project a great success - for both students and recipients!

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