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Marshall volunteers 'make a difference'

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ANN MARIE AMES
October 25, 2009
— Chilly October wind drove the groups of middle school volunteers indoors Saturday morning.

But it didn’t chill their spirits, even though the entryway of the grocery stores offered little protection from the cold.


A dozen members of the Marshall Volunteer Program, along with some helpers from Special Olympics and the Janesville Thursday Noon Optimists, collected cash and food Saturday at Logli Supermarket and Daniels Sentry Foods on East Milwaukee Street.


The plan had been to “stuff” a school bus with cash and donations. The sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grade volunteers will split the food donations between ECHO and the Salvation Army. Club members will vote to either use the cash to shop for more donations or give the cash directly to the food pantries, said club member Megan Williams, an eighth grader.


Normally, students canvass neighborhoods with shopping carts during the annual event.


But adult organizers this year thought it would be better to collect donations indoors because of the cold.


Saturday’s event was timed to coincide with national “Make a Difference Day,” an annual event promoting volunteerism.


But the food drive is only of many year-round volunteer projects for the Marshall Middle School club. Students also help with Special Olympics bowling, collect supplies for the Rock County Humane Society, make cards for retired veterans and adopt families during the holiday season, to name a few.


Club members earn presidential service awards for their work.


The students generate ideas for projects themselves, Marshall Volunteer Project sixth-grade member Beth Willger said.


“We actually just think of them,” Willger said.


The advisers make sure to put students in charge of projects, so they learn how to work with business owners and community members, adult adviser Kelly Sanchez said. That gives students a solid foundation for a lifetime of volunteer work, she said.


Sanchez appreciates the variety of students who are members of the club. Some are shy, and some are outgoing, she said. Some are talented athletes, and some are just discovering their talents, Sanchez said.


Teacher adviser Ashley Ranum likes the way students learn to make connections outside the circle of school and home.


“These are students who are kind enough to reach outside into their community and bring it back.”



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