That started out as a grant from the Center of Global Understanding and Peacemaking has now grown into collecting toiletries for the Community Cupboard of Elizabethtown.
Dr. Leigh Shannon Haley-Mize, assistant professor of education, has put the grant toward the international program, Peace Jam, with help from special education majors and participating middle-schoolers. The group’s most recent project is to collect toiletries for the Elizabethtown Food Pantry.
Peace Jam, an eight-week program for children with special needs, focuses on Nobel Peace Laureates. The program encourages children of all ages to work towards a bigger cause and to understand the multicultural values of the world.
Along with these objectives, they are provided advice from esteemed Nobel Laureates and told what these public figures were doing in their childhood to get involved.
Once a week, the students will walk down from the middle school and join the group on campus as a two-hour after school activity that is directed toward students with disabilities. Haley-Mize said that these students are often given fewer opportunities to participate in extra-curricular activities, and that is why she directed the group towards these students.
To extend the messages they are learning, the group from last semester decided to focus on homelessness and poverty, from which they put their plans for a toiletry drive into place. The first action they took was to conduct a drive in the middle school. Now, they are on campus to continue their work of aiding the relief of homelessness and poverty.
The Food Pantry is continually low on toiletries. By donating to this cause, the donations will be given to low-income families based upon need. Students of the college are encouraged to buy items from the dollar store, or even school store to donate.
If smaller items are bought, such as a small tube of toothpaste, Haley-Mize suggests putting multiple items in a plastic zip bag since families are limited to the number of items they are given. Shopping in bulk is a convenient way to share many common household necessities with those who need them
Participating parties from the Peace Jam group on campus have also volunteered to help at the Food Pantry where they sorted donations and organized the stock room. Haley-Mize stated that it was very rewarding for the group to help out in the community, specifically at the Community Cupboard.
“My goal was to empower young people to get involved,” Haley-Mize said.
Choosing the Peace Jam program is just the beginning for Haley-Mize. In the future, she hopes to work with children and teenagers in the juvenile justice system, who have more emotional and behavioral disorders.
There are about eight middle-schoolers that have participated in the program, and with the new semester’s start, Haley-Mize is hopeful more students will attend, in addition to some that will return from the last project.
The Peace Jam Toiletry Drive continues to collect items until Feb. 6, with donation boxes located in the High Library and the Brossman Student Center.
Contact Dr. Haley-Mize at email@example.com for more information.