Valley Day of Change goes outside the classroom

Published 10:25 am Saturday, April 20, 2024

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Valley High School students took a trip outside of the classroom on Friday, to serve their community. Valley Day of Change is an annual event the school does to encourage students to give back. This year over 80 students volunteered at 16 sites. 

Students got a list of sites around the city to choose from. They ranked their top three choices and were sorted into sites by the event’s organizers. 

“In the past, day of change has been working around the school campus,” said Ellen Emfinger, the Valley High Media Specialist and an organizer of the event. “But this time we’re going to do a day of change a little differently. We want to go out in the community…to help give back to those who have so graciously given to us throughout the year.”

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One of the sites was a blood drive at the Valley Community Center co-hosted by LifeSouth blood drives and The local HOSA, Future Health Professionals, chapter. There will be a second blood drive on Monday, April 22 at the Valley Walmart from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. ET.

LifeSouth is giving money for every pint of blood donated at the site to the HOSA organization. The money will go to fund the students who are going to compete at an international health sciences competition in Texas this summer.

Ashlyn Barnes, a member of HOSA, was one of the volunteers at the blood drive. She joined the group because she hopes to become a Physical Therapist. While she will not be going to Texas this summer, Barnes wanted to support the other HOSA members. 

“I just thought it would be a good opportunity to come out and support my fellow classmates and get other people in the community to give donations to them, to get blood and to save lives,” said Barnes.

Across the street, other students were doing art activities and visiting with seniors at Lakewood Senior Living. Both Jamiah Ewing and Shamir Welch chose the location because they were interested in nursing after high school. While Ewing hopes to work with kids, she liked the idea of coloring and painting with the seniors. Welch’s mother works at Lakewood so she was familiar with the site. 

A food drive was organized at three separate sites, manned by nine students. Groups were stationed at the Valley Givorns, the Lanett Kroger and Chambley’s to collect food and money for the Christian Service Center. Emfinger said the center has experienced a resource shortage and donations are always welcome. 

There were three girls at Givorns, by 11 a.m. they had already filled multiple crates with food. Anani Bailey, Cailey Leonard and Abigail McDonald are all in Beta Club, a volunteer group at the school. While all the sites are giving the students the required volunteer hours for their respective clubs, many of them seemed surprised to learn they get hours. The girls echoed each other saying they just enjoy volunteering in their community. 

The other sites were the Fairfax, WF Burns, Huguely and Shawmut Elementary where some of the students helped the younger children and staff. Another group set up for the annual auction at Valley Haven School. Circle of Care Center, the Water Authority, Valley Senior Center and East Alabama-Lanier Hospital also kept the kids busy. Some students helped with landscaping for Katnip Enterprises and the Valley Housing Authority at the Sunflower House, to prepare for a summer program there. 

While the day of change may have ended on Friday, the Valley Ecology Club will be assisting with a City of Valley clean-up on Saturday.

“We’re just trying to get out and help, get involved in the community, and create some civic-minded kids,” Emfinger said.