Charitable efforts by 11 Arnold Magnet Academy students may give Georgia families a temporary home for the holidays.
Arnold Magnet's Junior Marshals presented $103 in donations to the Ronald McDonald House Charities of West Ga, Inc. Thursday morning. The donation was part of a citizenship project developed by the school's Junior Marshals Program, a Muscogee County Marshal's Office led program that aims to teach middle school students values such as leadership and teamwork.
De'Estiny Favors, the 8th grade Arnold Magnet Junior Marshals president, said the group developed their philanthropic effort with the holiday spirit in mind.
They held a free movie night — featuring the 2000 rendition of "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" — and offered drinks, pizza and popcorn for sale. The event was resounding success, with 33 attendees, popcorn provided by Carmike Cinemas and drinks and cups donated by Chick-fil-A.
"It feels good to give the money away, instead of keeping it for ourselves and putting it in the Junior Marshal's bank," Favors said.
For Beth Mancini, program manager for the Ronald McDonald House, the selfless act was a welcome surprise. The charity, which houses families from outside the Columbus and Phenix City area who have children in the hospital, uses many of its donations to keep the refrigerators stocked and utilities paid for its guests.
Many of the families who stay in the Columbus Ronald McDonald House come to the charity because their child was born prematurely and is in critical condition. The facility provides them with food, shelter, entertainment, a workout room and a place to do laundry.
"The irony is that even though this house doesn't serve the local community, it is largely funded by the local community," Mancini said. "There's so many countless ways that money can be helpful."
The Junior Marshals' holiday gift will be the first of many projects the group will tackle together. Next will be a lesson in leadership, which Vice President Noah McConnell, an 8th grader, says might take the form of a school dance.
"We still have to figure out how we're doing security, though," McConnell said. "I feel like I'm learning more about citizenship and leadership."