November 24, 2013

Academy students pack gift boxes

Two Rivers raised funds for Operation Christmas Child.

By Amie Sites Pharos-Tribune

---- — The students of Two Rivers Academy hustled through classrooms Friday morning as they packed Operation Christmas Child boxes.

After exceeding a goal of $100, Two Rivers Academy students were able to pack 20 to 25 boxes to send overseas through Operation Christmas Child. Items purchased to go in the boxes included toothbrushes, toothpaste, combs and various toys for both boys and girls. Each box also had a card inside.

Two Rivers Academy is an alternative middle school program offered at the Family Opportunity Center, located near the Cass County 4-H fairgrounds. Students who attend come from Lincoln and Columbia Middle Schools for various reasons, including falling behind in school or having emotional difficulties.

Chuck LaDow, director of the alternative middle school program, teaches the students. The program, which meets from 8 to 3:30 p.m. during the week, currently has nine students and covers a full curriculum.

“Middle school is a tough time,” LaDow said.

Students eventually transition back to Columbia and Lincoln middle schools. After students transition back, a counselor at the school meets with students and LaDow said he checks up on them as well.

LaDow, who has been involved with the program for three years, said in addition to the class they try to do other activities.

Students in the program had a Thanksgiving meal Friday afternoon and later attended the Logansport High School Winter Fantasy production of “Grease.” Some students also went shopping to help pick out the items to go in the Operation Christmas Child boxes.

“Our focus now is that this is a great opportunity to get kids back on the right path,” LaDow said.

The program has involved a lot of goal setting, like the $100 goal for the Operation Christmas Child boxes, LaDow said.

Brady Kreighbaum, a student at Two Rivers, chose to pack a box to send to a boy between the ages of 10 to 14. Brady was also one of the students who was allowed to go shopping to get the items to pack the boxes.

“I like packing the boxes because it’s for a good cause,” Brady said. “If it was for people who didn’t need it, it wouldn’t be as much fun.”

Elizabeth Avery, Four County quality care coordinator who also oversees the middle school and high school program at the Family Opportunity Center, came up with the project.

After working with the group of kids on a day-to-day basis last year, she was impressed with how giving the group was. It was in early fall when Avery thought the project would be a good idea.

The children focused on giving back to people and worked hard to reach the set goal.

Avery said she was happy with the results of the project. Some of the kids asked family members for money and some even brought their own money.

One student event went door-to-door asking for donations for the project.

Atraea Owens used to go door-to-door for previous programs, including local dog fostering organization A Cause for Paws. She went around with a pamphlet and asked people to donate money for their project.

Atraea said she enjoyed helping other kids.

“I had fun doing it,” Atraea said. “The kids who are getting our things probably haven’t had toys.”

Avery said the juvenile probation employees at the Family Opportunity Center were a huge help in raising the money needed to fill Operation Christmas Child boxes.

“I have been very impressed with their hard work and compassion,” Avery said.

The Operation Christmas Child boxes will be taken to a local drop-off point for the program early next week, Avery said. From there, the boxes will be sent to children in need.

Amie Sites is a staff reporter at the Pharos-Tribune. She can be reached at 574-732-5117 or Follow her: @PharosAES.