DMS Christmas Cheer Goes International

Students Send Support to National Guard in Kuwait
Posted on 12/18/2019
This is the image for the news article titled Students Send Support to National Guard in KuwaitAt a time when experts acknowledge students are self-absorbed as part of their natural developmental process, Dresden Middle School students are showing signs of great empathy. And the impact of their kindness is literally being felt around the world.

The DMS Weakley County Youth Coalition members had already launched a toy and canned food drive to assist Santa’s Helpers, the Dresden-based nonprofit that helps families in need. The 8th graders then determined that they wanted to make their mark on the school and students in the English Language Arts (ELA) classes began collecting Christmas ornaments so that their fellow students would have decorations for Christmas available in the school store, The Lions’ Den. The Den, operated by the Beta Club, is the means that students who have earned “bucks” for good behavior, grades and showing improvement can spend their earnings on personal items. But, organizers observe, most choose to buy Christmas gifts for others, and some even become the source of their family’s Christmas tree and holiday decorations.

But it was the 5 through 8th grade social study classes who have seen their kindness cross the seas. According to teacher and organizer Pam Copeland, approximately 155 pounds of DMS-collected treats and handmade cards will arrive in Kuwait in time to wish members of the 194th Engineer Brigade of the National Guard unit out of Jackson a merry Christmas.

The unit is in a 12-month deployment. At least two have Weakley County ties and several of the students say they have connections as family friends. Some have family members in the Guard but they are not deployed at this time.

In other words, the compassionate outreach wasn’t really personal. The motivation was strictly a matter of wanting to show kindness said Copeland.

“Since they are going to be away from their families on the holidays, we wanted them to know we are thinking about them,” she explained. At least 400 students were involved in collecting the gum, candy, cards and letters that were sent last week.

While DMS observes Veterans Day like many other schools, they also take part in a national program called Valentines for Veterans, when cards they’ve made are sent to the veterans’ hospital in Memphis. Copeland says this year the effort will probably be expanded to the National Guard as well.

Principal David Lewellen points to numerous other activities that help support the culture of kindness evident in the actions of the DMS students. Empathy-focused ELA classes, the current holiday emphasis, and the upcoming Kindness Week are some of the planned opportunities.

“We want the students to know, ‘it’s not all about me; it’s about others,’” he said of the current holiday activities. “And there’s no better time to show that than Christmas.”