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Fox Ridge students find perspective and purpose in public service project

A student at Fox Ridge folds blankets on March 3. It’s easy to get stuck in a certain perspective, especially following a year of hardships and challenges.

After a year of dealing with a global pandemic, and after a year of shifting between Remote and In-Person learning, students across the Cherry Creek School District continue to face unprecedented hurdles. For Alli Shaw, an eighth-grader at Fox Ridge Middle School, one of those challenges has been maintaining a positive outlook.

She’s been able to accomplish this through a focused effort on being selfless.

Along with a number of her fellow students, Shaw has been working to produce blankets and assemble warming kits for Aurora Warms the Night, a local nonprofit dedicated to reducing street homelessness and to assisting those struggling to find shelter. Dozens of Fox Ridge students have spent the past several months making homemade blankets and putting together supply kits that include items like socks, lotion, chapstick and hand warmers.

“This has been such a great experience,” Shaw said, as she and her fellow students folded blankets earlier this month in the Fox Ridge media center. “It’s important to make sure you have the right perspective; it’s easy to get stuck in your own problems. Service to others is a way you can break out of your own issues.”

According to Kristin Ayala, an eighth-grade social studies teacher at the school who helped organize the project, the effort has offered students across grade levels a similar sense of purpose. Ayala and her fellow faculty members helped organize the effort among different classes, but the original idea came from the students themselves.

“We’ve been encouraging our students to engage in a public service project, and they’ve been saying that they wanted to make and gather blankets for those experiencing homelessness,” Ayala said. “We like to have our kids make decisions on their own, and they’ve really wanted to do something for someone else during this challenging time. They want to help now more than ever.”

That much is clear in the materials the Fox Ridge group ended up gathering for delivery in early March. Students from different classes and different grades came together to provide Aurora Warms the Night with more than 80 blankets and more than 120 warming kits.

“The fact that we could do so much made me really happy,” said Ian Madigan, a seventh-grader. “It’s important to give back, and people need this kind of support,” he added, saying that the effort has inspired him to pursue similar public service projects in the future, “This makes me want to help more often.”

Carter Logue, a seventh-grader, had no experience making blankets before the project, but with the help of his teachers, his fellow students and even his parents, he built an impressive set of skills as a craftsman.

“My mom helped me make the first blanket, and I got faster. I was able to make a blanket in one hour or less,” said Logue, 12. “It has made me really happy. I just wanted to help as many people as possible.”

That kind of enthusiastic perspective is essential, especially after the last 12 months.

“My job is to offer these students a taste of what public service can do,” Ayala said. “I really think it helps them deal with their own problems.”

 Posted 3/24/21 at 10 AM