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Students show different ways to give

With Giving Tuesday just one week away, here’s a look at different ways our students give of their time and talent:

Senior Adam Garcia organized the installation of a flagpole and pathway at a local church for his Eagle Scout project.

Senior Adam Garcia recently received his Eagle Scout rank, the highest rank in Boy Scouts. In order to achieve the rank, Scouts progress through a series of ranks and coordinate a project that demonstrates their leadership skills. Adam’s project was to build a flagpole and concrete walk on the grounds of the New Chapel United Methodist Church and its cemetery in Jeffersonville.

Adam said he suggested the project to the church because he lives nearby and noticed the church didn’t have a flagpole. He spent about three months planning and executing the project, including hosting a carwash to raise the $800 needed to complete the project. He then sought the help of neighbors who knew how to operate heavy machinery to dig the path for the walk and of fellow Scouts in his troop, 4036 at Holy Family.

Adam said the most challenging part of the project was getting estimates for the cost of the concrete, in part because of the small size of the project. He did receive a favorable quote, and professionals poured the concrete. The most rewarding part is being able to see from his home the flag flying on the pole he and his fellow Scouts erected.

Now that he has achieved his Eagle Scout rank, Adam said he plans to stay involved with the troop and helping the younger Scouts to keep working on their advancement ranks and staying involved.

“I feel like that’s important,” he said. “If I had had someone when I was younger to be there for me, I would’ve gotten done earlier.”

Father-son activity becomes long-time service
Senior Cody Gibbs likes to help other people. So much so, that for the last four years, he has volunteered to teach self-defense classes alongside his father at Balmer Martial Arts studio in Floyds Knobs. In that time, he has built up 300 service hours teaching the classes.

Cody said he started taking classes in jujitsu with his dad in 2011, when his dad returned from a tour in Afghanistan and was looking for something the two could do together. At first, Cody didn’t really like the lessons, but over time, he began to enjoy them.

When he and his father were asked to teach the self-defense class four years ago, they readily accepted. They’ve continued to teach the classes for children and adults six days a week because they enjoy it so much.

“Overall, it’s a really good experience for me,” Cody said. “It taught me patience in working with all kinds of different people.”

Cody said he also enjoys the physical exercise, especially since he is normally a sedentary person. And he likes the chance to meet people he wouldn’t get to otherwise.

Cody has achieved his brown belt in jujitsu and is working on reaching the black belt level.

Senior acts upon seeing need
Senior Ethan Furnish is not one to sit back and wait for someone else to solve a problem. When he sees a need, he does what he can to help, just as he did with his nonprofit charity Soap 4 Hope. That’s right, his nonprofit charity, which he started as a sophomore.

Senior Ethan Furnish started a charity to help homeless people do laundry.

Soap 4 Hope works to partner local laundromats with Haven House Services in Jeffersonville to provide free laundry services to the homeless shelter. The laundromats preload funds on cards that the staff uses to clean bedding from the shelter. That allows the laundry facilities at the shelter to be free for the residents to use to clean their personal laundry”

Ethan said his parents help him with the charity but the idea was his. He knows that many people see those who are homeless as less than human, but he sees their needs. He has volunteered at local soup kitchens and knew it was probably hard for such disadvantaged people to stay clean.

Ethan and his parents have chosen not to file for 501 (c)(3) status with the Internal Revenue Service because they do not handle any money. They work as a go between to partner the Haven House staff with local laundromats. Soap 4 Hope does have a website and encourages those who wish to donate to give to Haven House or other local groups or agencies that serve the homeless.

Soap 4 Hope also encourages the donations of any type of soap for Haven House. Ethan said he is considering organizing a soap donation drive at school.

Ethan also is a member of the New Albany Deanery Catholic Youth Ministries Youth Ministries Action Team, a planning group of which he has been involved with for several years and is now its chairman. YMAT coordinates and organizes events for Deanery middle school students, including planning and brainstorming. The team also organizes service and fellowship events for its 18 members.

He has accumulated 250 of his 400 service hours through serving on YMAT, Ethan said. But he is not involved to rack up hours. Planning events that are well received by middle school students is rewarding.
“It’s awesome getting to see others getting to enjoy the fruits of your labors,” Ethan said. “I got to enjoy youth ministry growing up, so hopefully, this is a small way I can continue doing that for others.”

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