Bremen students giving back

BREMEN — It is never too early to recognize the importance of helping others, as students at Bremen Elementary-Middle School are learning first-hand.
The brainchild of first-year guidance counselor Jennifer True, the recently formed Bremen Leadership Team (BLT) is taking time to give back to the community.
“It was something I really wanted to do, so I started it and asked all of the eighth-graders if they would want to be a part,” True said. “I got an overwhelming response from them. I have a solid 35 or 40 kids at any given meeting, and there’s more joining all the time.”
True said her job is to “reach kids academically, personally, socially and in career pursuits” and that community service helps students grow in each area.
“First is academically because they have to learn how to balance their time, and most research shows that kids involved in after-school activities have better grades,” True said. “Personally and socially, they want to give back and just need an outlet. In career pursuits, I think we’ll be able to reach a lot of paths and venues that could even be a future employer for them.”
The club meets twice a week after school. At the beginning, True asked participants what community needs they’d like to see met. They came up with a list of 15 ideas. The big winter project was to host a Christmas party — which was held Wednesday — for underprivileged first-graders.
To raise funds for the party, the BLT held a bake sale at school last week. Items were donated from students in each grade and the staff.
“It went very, very well,” True said. “We were hoping to get a couple hundred dollars and ended up with much more.”
True said the Christmas party once was put on by the entire eighth-grade, but through some restructuring, it “kind of went to the wayside.” True wanted to give it new life, and BLT members did, too.
“Our last six or eight meetings have been about planning the party,” True said. “The kids were divided up into stations, with a cookie decorating station, ornaments and Santa. The students were responsible for planning the whole thing.”
The BLT extends to the participants’ families.
“Lots of them have connections with preschools, senior citizen homes, food pantries and businesses,” True said. “The parents have helped out in a variety of ways.”
BLT members have found that helping others isn’t just rewarding — it’s also fun.
“They are very enthusiastic,” True said. “They never seem like they’re ready to go when our time is up. They’ve been very resourceful as well.”
As for future projects, it’s totally up to the BLT.
“I’m going to leave that up to the kids,” True said. “We don’t have a formal plan yet, but with the money we got from the bake sale, it will make a huge difference and we’ll be able to do a lot more.”