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Jeannette NHS students to serve others as holidays approach

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Kristie Linden | Trib Total Media
Leading this year's Turkey Challenge 100 at Jeannette High School are National Honor Society members, in front, from left, Shaila Cecchetti, Nicole Evangelist and Mariel Fullem. In back are Michael Duncan, Marissa Lewis, Kiana Tran, Carlee Shifko and Tony Mash.

The National Honor Society (NHS) at Jeannette High School has been encouraging the student body to collect food for those in need for four years.

The Turkey Challenge 100 works to challenge each grade at the high school to collect at least 100 food items the week before Thanksgiving.

“I love giving back to the community,” said Tony Mash, a senior NHS member.

This year the seniors are tasked with bringing in 100 cans of corn, the juniors are collecting 100 cans of green beans, the sophomores will produce 100 boxes of stuffing and freshmen are looking to bring in 100 packages of mashed potatoes.

“It’s important to have the whole student body involved,” said Marissa Lewis, senior NHS member. “It’s really important to be selfless. This gives a good opportunity to do selfless acts of kindness.”

This year there is an extra challenge on the table to bring in 100 jars or cans or packages of gravy.

Carlee Shifko, a senior NHS member, said she is enjoying being one of the leaders of a project that she’s seen completed successfully every year of her high school career.

NHS sponsor Jason Huether said the group began offering service projects five years ago. At that time, the officers decided to start a Christmas service project known as JHS — Jayhawks Helping Santa.

This year, JHS will buy presents for 54 area children. Jeannette’s St. Vincent de Paul store organizes the Angel Trees at Ascension and Sacred Heart churches. Through the churches, the children will receive practical presents like clothing.

Those same children will receive a toy or fun gift from JHS.

“I like helping kids who don’t have what we have feel happy and feel better about themselves,” said Mash.

The project has three phases. First, each homeroom seeks to collect cash — which will be used for gift wrapping supplies. The room that collects the most gets a doughnut party.

The second phase is when the students pick a name from the Angel Tree, which comes with a description of the child and some gift ideas.

Presents will be dropped off by Dec. 4 and the NHS members will spend the day wrapping gifts before delivering them to St. Vincent de Paul for distribution.

“It’s important to not get caught up in your own life so much,” said Shaila Cecchetti, a senior NHS member. “You can give back at least one time each year.”

The Turkey Challenge 100 program got its start when NHS officers — Marcus Parfitt, Dena Horn and Cavin Israel — decided to add another service project to their activities. Thanksgiving was a natural extension of holiday service.

The food will be delivered to the Salvation Army tomorrow and will be used at upcoming holiday events and to provide holiday meals for those in need in Jeannette.

“We’ve met our challenge every single year,” Huether said.

The program is not intended to be a community-wide food drive, rather it is meant to spur the student body, and some staffers, into action.

“It shows that you don’t have to wait until you’re an adult to care about things,” said Lewis. “Everybody thinks you have to be old to contribute in this world.”

Students who participate are granted access to a movie during the half-day of school before Thanksgiving break.

They also get to watch teachers attempt to race through an obstacle course the day before Christmas break. The course is created by NHS members.

“It only happens if each grade does its part,” Huether said.

Nicole Evangelist, a senior NHS member, said now that it’s her turn to lead these service projects that she feels “like you’re fulfilling your responsibilities. It’s your turn to be in charge, to know what happens behind the scenes.”

Kristie Linden is an editor for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at klinden@tribweb.com or 724-838-5154.

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