Generosity project gives others the gift of warmth

“The best way to find yourself, is to lose yourself in the service of others.”

Those words, made famous by Mahatma Gandhi, characterize a recent community outreach project where students at Oswego County BOCES experienced the true spirit of generosity.

Oswego County BOCES students and staff members display the fleece tie-blankets that they created as part of a generosity community outreach project to benefit Oswego County Opportunities’ Program to Assist the Teenage Homeless. From left are: OCB School Counselor Jo Ann Smegelsky, Richard Preeman, Cody Holmquist, Oswego County Opportunities PATH Program representative Karen Merrill, Matthew Snyder, James Baldwin, Connor Caughy and OCB teacher Marian Becker.

The project was a cooperative effort between OCB School Counselor Jo Ann Smegelsky and students in Marian Becker’s and Joanne St. Gelais’ classrooms to create fleece tie-blankets for homeless teens in Oswego County.

In preparation for the project, students researched generosity and were asked to write their own definition for the word.

Connor Cauchy from Becker’s class defined generosity as “more than an item or article of clothing, it is the friends you can make by giving your friendship to them.”

In addition the students were asked to give their interpretation of many notorious quotes about selflessness and giving including this powerful statement by Helen Keller: “Believe, when you are most unhappy, that there is something for you to do in the world. So long as you can sweeten another’s pain, life is not in vain.”

Generosity is one of the four central values of the Circle of Courage youth empowered model adopted by Special Education classrooms at OCB. The other values are independence, belonging, and mastery.

As part of the Circle of Courage philosophy students participate in curriculum-enriched ABLE time each school day.

Oswego County BOCES student Cody Holmquist and OCB Teaching Assistant Nanette Willis work on carefully trimming material for one of the fleece tie-blankets that the students donated to Oswego County Opportunities’ homeless teen outreach program.

Standing for Actions Building Life Experience, ABLE time gives students an opportunity to engage in collaborative projects and build relationships while demonstrating personal responsibility.

It was during their ABLE time that the students in Becker’s and St. Gelais’ classrooms made the fleece tie-blankets.

The finished blankets were donated to Oswego County Opportunities for distribution to the Program to Assist the Teenage Homeless or PATH, which provides services to assist homeless youth in becoming self-sufficient.

Karen Merrill from the PATH program stopped by the school on December 17 to accept the donation and thank the students for their hard work, kindness and generosity.