'Power of One' program shows Woodbury students how far a buck can goTeachers and parents often tell students how much of an impact just one person can have, so Woodbury Middle School is putting that philosophy to the test.
By: Amber Kispert-Smith, Woodbury Bulletin
Teachers and parents often tell students how much of an impact just one person can have, so Woodbury Middle School is putting that philosophy to the test.
This week WMS launched a new schoolwide monthly charity effort called the “Power of One” where all students, and staff, are asked to bring in $1, and one item for the food shelf, in hopes of donating $1,000 and 1,000 items every month.
WMS has roughly 920 students and 80 staff members.
This month the school is asking students to bring one box of cereal, or a box of breakfast bars, and $1 to be donated to an organization dedicated to Alzheimer’s.
The program was started by the WMS Student Council.
“They always talk about how little we need to do to make a great impact,” said Lanka Liyanapathiranage, the Student Council adviser. “One dollar is a small challenge that everyone is willing to give up – it’s a tangible goal.”
The Wildcat way
Earlier this year WMS started discussing a theme for the school – just what is the “wildcat way.”
The wildcat is the WMS mascot.
“We were working through what a wildcat should represent,” WMS Principal Kari Lopez said. “And we came up with respect, responsible, participate and persevere.”
In coordination with that, the WMS Student Council decided to organize some sort of fundraising effort to represent those values, Lopez said.
“We know the kids have worked very hard to create a community and school spirit and through the kids one thing that has come up is giving back to the community that has done great things for them and what that would mean to our community,” she said. “The giving back for our students is a focus this year.”
Student Council came up with the idea of the “Power of One” thanks to the organization, One.org, which aims to raise money for AIDS while advocating for how much of an impact one person can have.
The power of one
The way the “Power of One” works is that every month the WMS student body will vote on which organization it wants to donate money to based on a list of options in a variety of theme areas – disease, disabilities, animals, elderly, poverty, hunger and homelessness.
“The piece with this is the ownership,” Lopez said. “This is going to come from the students.”
Liyanapathiranage said he wanted to incorporate a different organization every month because it would help educate students on the problems facing the world.
The organizations will be local, national and international
“They will get to know a lot more about what’s going on around the world,” Liyanapathiranage said. “It will give them a little more global, as well as local, awareness.”
Additionally, Liyanapathiranage said the voting will also enable students to choose organizations that are important to them because of a family member or friend.
“(There are) so many things that we don’t know about our students,” he said. “This is a good way to advocate for people in their lives and inform the rest of the student body about it.”
In addition to the different organization every month, students will be asked to donate a specific food item to the Christian Cupboard Emergency Food Shelf.
“I called the Christian Cupboard to see what items they need,” Liyanapathiranage said. “I think people are more likely to donate when they know what they’re supposed to give.”
September is cereal, breakfast bars; October is toiletries; November is snack items; December is macaroni and cheese; January is Hamburger Helper, Tuna Helper, canned tuna and canned chicken; February is spaghetti sauce; March is peanut butter and jelly: April is canned fruits and vegetables and May is toiletries again.
Students will drop off their money and food shelf items with the Student Council the last week of every month.
Liyanapathiranage will then transport all of the items to the Christian Cupboard.
“I’m a little nervous about how I’m going to get stuff in my car to transport it,” he said. “One thousand cans of something will be hard.”
Liyanapathiranage said he is optimistic of the students’ and the staff’s participation.
“I would like to say we’ll get 100 percent participating, but I know there’s people in our building that can’t even afford food,” he said. “One hundred boxes is better than no boxes.”
Lopez and Liyanapathiranage said they hope to continue the “Power of One” on a permanent basis because not only will it help thousands of people, it will help develop character in WMS students.
“We’re teaching little bits of character, little bits of compassion and little bits of empathy,” Liyanapathiranage said. “We’re only 1,000 people, but every month we’re helping a larger group of people.”
Visit www.woodburybulletin.com to see the “Power of One” video Woodbury Middle School presented to students.