South Middle School Students Make an Impact through Helping Hands

As a community service project, three Waukee students found a way to extend a helping hand that has reached the lives of many children in a local hospital. Waukee South Middle School (SMS) 7th graders, Jordan Gabriel, Lindsay Newman and Jonathan Nevenhoven, started a nonprofit organization called Helping Hands which gives gifts to patients at Blank Children’s Hospital.

The three worked together during the 2016-17 school year to collect donations from people around the community to create packages that included items such as fleece blankets, homemade pillowcases, smile cards, coloring books, coloring utensils and small toys. The organization hopes to expand to more hospitals in the future.

“When the students first came to me I was a little leery because it seemed like such a huge project, but with determination,

they’ve created this amazing organization and have even included many other students in the process,” said SMS principal Doug Barry. “Their work is helping so many kids and I am very proud of everything they have accomplished.”

Helping Hands has more than 100 student volunteers in 6th and 7th grade. The workload is divided among five volunteer groups who assist in the care package creation process. The volunteer categories include card, blanket, pillowcase and poster making and a sorting squad. The organization has over 100 student volunteers.

The three student founders have worked for months on forming Helping Hands to become the best it can be. Lindsay is mainly in charge of contacting the hospital and keeping good communication, Jordan is involved with organizing volunteers and Jonathan is in charge of all technology aspects of the organization like the Helping Hands website.

“We believe the children in hospitals need these care packages because sometimes they can feel left out and sad. We create the packages to make them feel better and to put a smile on their face,” said Newman.

SMS students continue to challenge themselves to go to greater lengths each year through their varying interests and unique ideas. The group looks forward to expanding the organization to reach more hospitals while continuing their work through the summer and into the 2017-18 school year.