Spring Lake Middle School students answer call to help homeless

Spring Lake Middle School students raised more than $6,000 in supplies and $3,000 in cash for homeless youth and families.|

Over 100 emails were sent to state Sen. Mike McGuire’s office from Spring Lake Middle School eighth graders with a question: How can we help community members experiencing homelessness?

The letters, sent in November as part of a class project, inspired McGuire, D-Healdsburg, and prompted his visit to the school in February, he said.

That’s when he challenged them to a contest: whichever class could raise the most in donations of supplies and money for two local homeless advocacy groups, Social Advocates For Youth and the The Living Room, would win an all-you-can-eat pizza and ice cream party. He also promised to match the funds with up to $2,000 of grant money.

Through word-of-mouth and posters, by April, students and their families raised more than $6,000 in supplies and $3,000 in cash for youth and families experiencing homelessness.

Friday, McGuire and homeless advocacy organization leaders visited the school to thank the students for making a difference and helping those in the community who are struggling.

"I simply came to say how grateful I am," McGuire said. "It was student led, and it is because of their generosity that the supply drive was a fantastic success."

Rebecca Rogoway, donor relations officer for The Living Room, expressed gratitude to the hyped-up students at an outdoor assembly.

“Because you guys gave today, a family will have dinner tonight,” she said, thanking them on behalf of the organization and the more than 900 women and children living on the streets in Sonoma County.

Dennis Agnos, the chief development officer for Social Advocates for Youth, thanked the students for being part of the solution to helping those in need.

“Your heart and care for them is going to go miles,” he said.

River Bull, 13, was one of the eighth graders who sent a letter to McGuire as part of their “Doing Democracy” effort, a history class project where students demonstrate civic engagement by attending public meetings and writing to public officials.

“It’s really great to see it all pay off,” Bull said, after a line of students carried boxes to the front of the assembly, filled with supplies such as deodorant and soap. “I’m really happy we could help.”

Because of the supply drive’s success, the school plans to hold the supply drive annually, said eighth grade history teacher Heidi Newton.

You can reach Staff Writer Alana Minkler at 707-526-8511 or alana.minkler@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @alana_minkler.

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