Members of Eleanor Roosevelt's National Honor Society have dived into the spirit of giving this season, collecting more than 250 backpacks and more than 200 pounds of school supplies for a public school in Haiti and nearly 100 new toys for children at a homeless shelter in Washington, D.C.
Earlier this year, NHS students collected gently used backpacks and other school supplies from fellow students in their "Bring Back the Backpack" campaign.
"We basically had a table set up every lunch period and students would bring in their supplies and backpacks. We gave out a prize for the person who brought in the most," said Christopher Chornay, NHS president.
The nonprofit community development organization Haitian American Caucus delivered the items to Haiti, later posting the pictures online for students to see.
"There was this funny-looking bag with Mickey Mouse on it that I remembered collecting, and a couple weeks later I went on Facebook and there's this picture of this little kid in Haiti holding that same bag. It was a really nice feeling," Chornay said.
Last weekend, students collected 96 wrapped toys from friends, family and teachers during a Christmas party at the school, and the items were delivered to the D.C. General Family Shelter on Sunday and given to homeless children.
NHS students said they learned a great deal from the experience.
"It puts things in perspective. You see these groups on TV that need help, and it's easy to say, 'Oh, someone else will donate.' But when you are given the chance to help out, you actually realize that people around the world need help and to give to them because we have the means to is a really great opportunity that we have," said Gregory Brown, a senior and NHS member.
Natasha Chomko, a senior and NHS member involved in the toy drive, agreed.
"It feels really good to know what you're doing directly affects other people," Chomko said.