Most people know that getting into the Farwell High School National Honor Society takes an excellent grade point average. But NHS is so much more than a scholastic club. In addition to a high GPA, students who apply for membership in this club must also demonstrate exceptional character qualities and a desire to serve their community.
The advisors for Farwell’s NHS, Jill Albaugh and Carrie Carncross, go out of their way to stress the importance of selfless service with their students. That means no pictures in the papers, no rewards, and
certainly no pizza parties. NHS students learn that doing something meaningful and positive for others is, in itself, its own reward.
Probably the biggest project that NHS participates in each year is Gifts from the Heart. This project provides toys and a Christmas dinner to Farwell families who would otherwise not have a Christmas. Teachers, administrators, bus drivers, and others provide the NHS with the names of possible candidates who might wish to receive help with Christmas. The NHS raises money towards this project. Then they must shop for gifts and food, wrap the gifts, organize the gift baskets and label them and finally they must deliver the baskets.
Because Gifts from the Heart is such a big undertaking, volunteers are always welcomed. This year Teresa Ziegler, a parent of an NHS graduate, returned to help organize the delivery of the baskets. Angelina Hammond, a Farwell High School graduate and past Vice President of NHS, also returned this year to help with the organization and logistics of this project. She spent many, many hours on the phone talking with families about their needs and desires regarding Gifts from the Heart. She gathered information about each family and helped the NHS work towards providing a good Christmas for Farwell families. This year the NHS was able to adopt 43 families (102 children) for Christmas.
Fundraising for such a large project is also time consuming and difficult in a small community such as ours. The Chamber of Commerce graciously donated $300 to the cause, which was used to purchase turkey, ham, and chicken for the Christmas dinners. Also, there were about 10 individuals and a few businesses who adopted kids and their families. The rest of the needed funds were obtained by soliciting businesses and other organizations for contributions and by working for money.
And a special note of appreciation goes to a former Farwell graduate, Shawn Updyke. Shawn, who is currently working the oil fields, called Mrs. Albaugh and asked if he could help with Gifts from the Heart. Shawn has been donating to Gifts from the Heart for three years now. Shawn very often will take on whoever is not adopted out and provide gifts for the children. This sometimes means 18-25 kids he is providing gifts for. He shops for the kids and then he personally delivers the gifts to the NHS. His generosity makes Christmas special, not only for many children, but also for Mrs. Albaugh, who is reminded by his efforts, of the goodness in people.
NHS members work hard to raise money for various projects over the school year. One of the primary ways NHS raises funds for their projects is by selling concessions at CMU football games. NHS students must count the concession product when they arrive to work, sell the product, recount the product after the game is over, and then clean up. They receive 10% of the take on the concessions for their efforts. NHS must provide 14 people to work the concessions. Two adult volunteers who help the kids work most games are Connie Bickel and Deb Jones. Mrs. Albaugh really appreciates the extra adult supervision as the work is both hectic and exhausting. NHS uses the funds that they raise from concession sales to help buy things for the school such as football helmets, as well as provide funding for Gifts from the Heart.
To be an NHS member is to be a person of determination, character, and hard work. Even though these students prefer to work behind the scenes, their efforts are certainly deserving of our respect. If you would like to help the NHS or sponsor a family for Project Christmas, you can contact Jill Albaugh at the high school.