Jefferson High School's Air Force Junior ROTC cadets raise money for clothes and shoes

165 students raised nearly $8,000 for the cause

December 21, 2011|By RICHARD F. BELISLE |
  • Lindsey Clem, left, a Jefferson High School senior and member of the Jefferson High Air Force Junior ROTC program, and Lisa Carper, coordinator of student support services at the school and coordinator of the annual fundraiser, show off the nearly $8,000 in donations the 165 ROTC cadets collected to buy new shoes and warm clothes for needy children.
Submitted photo

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. — The 165 Jefferson High School students enlisted in the Air Force Junior ROTC program marked the season of giving in a big way Wednesday, as they donated nearly $8,000 to buy new shoes and warm clothes for about 150 disadvantaged children in Jefferson County.

It was the most money collected in any year since the cadets took up supporting the Jefferson County Shoe and Coat Fund in 2004. Over the seven years they have raised nearly $30,000, school Principal Howard Guth said.

"Their commitment to this is incredible," Guth said.

It all began in the mid-1980s when a dozen or so Rumsey County Extension Club members, a group of mostly educators organized under the Jefferson County Extension Service, held the first fundraiser, said Pam Wilder, a retired county teacher and Rumsey Club member.

The women counted the shoes in their closets and donated 10 cents for each pair they owned to buy shoes and warm clothes for needy children.

Early efforts raised $300 to $400 a year, Wilder said.

"That was a lot of money in the 1980s," she said.

The Rumsey Club disbanded about 10 years ago, but the women still meet for social dinners.

The ROTC cadets adopted the fundraiser as a community project for their leadership development program.

"We really needed a record this year because of the economy," Lisa Carper, coordinator of student support services and drive organizer, told the cadets surrounding her in the school foyer.

It's special "when ordinary people join together to do an ordinary thing, and it culminates into an extraordinary thing. If only you could be with me when I see that little girl zip up her new purple jacket and look in the mirror. It's her first new coat, not used or handed down," Carper said.

Louisa Holland, a junior, said she collected about $400, much of it by asking her relatives to donate money for her birthday to the clothing fund instead.

The husband and wife team of Will and Stephanie Poe, both retired U.S. Air Force master sergeants, and Philip Suydam, a retired Air Force major, make up the school's ROTC teaching staff.

ROTC cadets wear their uniforms, supplied by the Air Force, on Tuesdays and for special occasions like Wednesday's presentation. Their ROTC classes rotate with their regular classes, Poe said.

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