Free hot chocolate, coffee help people stay warm as Armstrong Middle School Blueberry Ambassadors help community

Kearsley Armstrong Middle School, coordinator Courtney Emerick

By Halle Parish

My first Blueberry Moment was at my church. I gave a free pop or juice out to the less fortunate kids that wanted one. My second Blueberry Moment was also at my church. We were given these quarter pallets. We were told to fill them with quarters over that next week. A little boy (about 5 years old) came up to me asking what a quarter was. I already had a few in my pallet, so I didn’t tell him what they were. I took the ones I had in mine and showed them to him.  I then took all of my quarters and put them into his pallet. It didn’t seem like a big deal to me, but as soon as I did it he ran and showed all of his friends with a big smile on his face.

My last Blueberry Moment was when I saw a young man ringing the bell for the Salvation Army. He looked cold! So, I went to McDonalds and bought him a hot chocolate. It was my idea of a reward for him for something good he was doing to help those in his community.

By Chloe Vollmar
I was really excited about finding some Blueberry Moments to tackle! My first Blueberry Moment happened when I was in the drive-thru at a local fast food restaurant. I decided to pay for the order the car behind me had made. It was $10, but I was really excited to make someone else’s day a little better.

My second moment was when I bought hot chocolate for a woman who was standing outside collecting money for charity.

And my third moment was the most special. I went with my grandmother and volunteered my time at a senior center. I helped by doing dishes, passing out food and helping to clean the tables when people finished eating. I also helped the staff set up for the next day as well. It felt really great knowing that I was making their job easier, and rewarding to help the people who lived there, too!

By Nick Williams
Every year on Halloween in my neighborhood, there is a couple that passes out free hot dogs and pop to people while they are trick-or-treating. It’s awesome!

I decided that this year I wanted to do something nice for them, because they’re always doing something nice for everyone else. So, I wrote them letter telling them about the Blueberry program. I went down to their house a couple weeks later, and gave them each a Reese’s and a copy of the letter.

I told them I was repaying them for all the nice things they did every Halloween.  It felt great to give to those who were already so giving.

By Stephanie Lane
Hi, my name is Stephanie Lane. I’m an eighth-grader at Armstrong Middle School, in the Kearsley School District. Since this was my first Blueberry Moment, I wanted to make it extra special. The first card I gave was No. 1860.

It was an early Sunday morning, and I could already tell it was going to be a cold day. I decided to stop at McDonalds to get a hot chocolate for an elderly woman in my neighborhood.

I knocked on her door, and as soon as she opened it and I handed her the hot chocolate, her face lit up! I asked her if she minded if I came in and visited and helped her do some things around her house, which could make her day easier.

I was able to vacuum her house and do little things she struggled to do by herself. The best part about helping her was listening to her stories about her past and her late husband. After helping her and listening to her wonderful memories, I needed to explain what the Blueberry Project was all about.

I explained how our Power of 100 group leaders had hand-picked 10 students to be involved with this awesome project that encouraged us to do nice things for others in our community. I handed her the card and she said she was going to try to pay it forward. As I was walking out the door, she stopped me and gave me a hug. She whispered in my ear, “Thanks for thinking of me.”  It made my day!

By Courtney Emerick
I am ecstatic to take on the role of Blueberry ambassador/advisor at our school.

Two years ago, I was very frustrated at my school. We brought in a lot of programs about how to prevent bullying, but nothing felt like it gelled with our kids, or maintained the interest of our staff enough that it stuck around for longer than a few months.

Our high school had already adopted the “Power of 100” program, which was designed to empower 100 students to stand up against bullying, and I was adamant about getting it into our middle school. I felt like middle school is such a pivotal age where bullying can take place, and we have so many kids who do the right thing every day that we were missing the boat by not getting them involved!

Thus, the Armstrong Middle School Power of 100 group was born. Our goal is to get our kids to look out for others and to have some ownership in their school community.

Over the past two years, we’ve hosted four “Mix It Up at Lunch” activities, where students are assigned seats in the cafeteria away from their normal peer group.  Our goal is to get all of our students to find someone to connect with in their school day, even if it’s outside of the peers they are comfortable with.

We created positive locker notes on Valentine’s Day last year, and hung one on every single locker in our building. We wanted our students to see a positive reminder of how important and special they are. My favorite project thus far was just this fall. We decided to “Boo” students with Halloween treats and a note encouraging them to pay it forward to others in our building.

Students in Power of 100 gave up their lunch hours to work on our Boo bags. We made 150 bags, decorated them, filled them with treats, and put a note on the front telling them to have a great day and encouraging them to pass it on.  Watching the kids get so into working on the preparation of the bags was awesome.

On Friday mornings, we would take a list of student names, and open those students’ lockers, set the bag inside, shut the locker, and wait. Watching the looks on faces, and hearing the comments made when the Boo bags were discovered by the intended recipient was priceless! There’s no better feeling than knowing you’ve done something kind for someone else.

I was also able to hand out two of my three Blueberry cards. My first card I used at Starbucks on a Friday morning a couple of weeks ago. I collected my order, paid for the car behind me, and handed over a card. I asked the cashier to tell the person behind me to have a great day and to pay it forward should they so desire.

My second Blueberry card was more personal.  We have a very special lady in our building who is a one-on-one special education aide who works with an exceptionally challenging student. This student requires a lot of patience and kindness, and no matter what kind of day the student is having, she is always positive and kind. Even when she is feeling stressed and exhausted she never shows it to the student she works with.

I brought her coffee and some special treats to try to make her day a little bit brighter. She works so hard at what she does day in and day out, and she deserved someone to recognize all that she willingly gives just because of the kind of person that she is.

The best part about the Blueberry project has been not only the feeling you get when you hand over a card, but watching my students’ wheels turn as they look for good deeds to do. I’ve enjoyed my 13 years in the classroom, but this last two years, having the opportunity to work with students in this whole new capacity (the Power of 100 group) has been like food for my soul.

There is no better feeling than watching kids want to do good, want to change the culture of their school, and want to be the reason those things are happening. Watching them get so excited about the projects their doing, and feel so rewarded simply by a job well done is simply incredible.  I can honestly say that I have learned as much from my kids as I’ve tried to teach them.  They are awesome and continue to inspire me to want to work harder and do more.

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