"To handle yourself, use your mind; to handle others, use your heart,” said Eleanor Roosevelt. These words provided inspiration to the members of the Future Business Leaders of America (FBLA) Club at Cherry Creek High School (CCHS) as they were engaged in bringing their community service efforts to new heights. Empowered by their peers from high schools across the nation and learning about their achievements at the FBLA National Leadership Conference in Atlanta in July 2016, sophomore Edwin Bodoni and freshman Evelyn Bodoni concluded that CCHS was home to numerous service-oriented students, who had an incredible potential to make a difference in their communities. Energized by new ideas, the Bodonis were determined to harness the talent of their fellow FBLA members and lead the club’s community service in a new direction by diversifying its involvement.
For many years, the FBLA Club at CCHS was fundraising to support the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society of Denver. In addition to this pursuit, in late summer 2016, the FBLA Club implemented another community service project named “Activity bags for Denver’s Children’s Hospital.” These bags contain fun items such as mini Lego boxes, small puzzles, little toys, coloring books, crayons, and other cool things, which can be enjoyed on a hospital bed tray. Activity bags are designed to provide non-screen related entertainment to kids who are in the hospital for an extensive period of time or for those coming in for out-patient procedures.
Edwin Bodoni got the idea for this project because he was a patient at Children’s Hospital in Denver when he broke his leg in January 2016. Although he was well cared for by the medical staff during his brief hospital stay, he remembered being extremely bored. He recalls wishing he had something fun to do other than watching TV, something small, silly, and cute that was not an electronic device. Edwin was hospitalized for only two days. However, he couldn’t stop thinking how sad and boring it must be for young children to stay in the hospital for days, maybe even weeks at a time. Edwin was determined to create “activity bags” for patients at Children’s Hospital, providing enjoyment that did not involve screen time. If these children could forget that they were sick and had fun for even only one hour playing with something new, Edwin believed that his effort was worthwhile.
To achieve the desired result, emphasis was placed on ways to improve the effectiveness of fundraising at school events. Using the scientific method, the Bodoni siblings conducted an experiment to evaluate the success of their fundraising campaign. This investigation yielded interesting results, which allowed valuable insights into the art of raising money in a high school setting. These results indicated that when students make charitable contributions, they are often ruled by their hearts and not their minds. The second important aspect that the Bodonis focused on was to inspire others to share their vision. “The greatest leader is not necessarily the one who does the greatest things. He is the one who gets the people to do the greatest things,” said Ronald Reagan.
Freshman and fellow FBLA member, Mariam Gopalani, joined the Bodonis’ fundraising effort, actively raising money outside of the school for the activity bags. Also, other FBLA members have been instrumental in acquiring some of the items for the activity bags. FBLA officer Jenna Winocur combined forces with Mariam, and they were successful in securing a large donation of crayons and coloring books. The creation of the activity bags is a dynamic group endeavor, which takes place at the FBLA Club’s weekly meetings. Every month, the club members produce about 80 bags. Since the initiation of this project in August 2016, the FBLA Club has raised over $1,500 towards this venture and delivered 400 activity bags to Denver’s Children’s Hospital.
Ms. Deborah Schuster, the Volunteer Service Manager at Children’s Hospital, appreciates the service CCHS’s FBLA Club provides to their patients. This community service project will run until the end of the 2016-17 school year. The members of Creek FBLA Club hope to build on the idea of the activity bags, to expand this undertaking, and to introduce in other places, where it could have an even greater impact.