Having taken on the lion's share of selfless work and generosity of their current project, the student members of Canfield Village Middle School's Leo's Club will be able to put a smile on the faces of 87 children in the Canfield community on Christmas morning.
Leo's Club was brought to the school 13 years ago by CVMS teacher Mike Kerensky. It is comprised of approximately 140 members from the seventh and eighth grades, who perform charitable acts within the Canfield community. Currently the members are involved in "Operation Christmas Carol." The program is now in its fourth year, throughout which it has served 327 children.
Spreading Christmas cheer in the form of gifts for children in Canfield who otherwise might not have had any, "Operation Christmas Carol" begins with referrals from Community Care Net. Leo's Club's adult leaders compile lists of children's needs, after which the students sign up to speak in various homerooms about the program. According to Kerensky, some homerooms take on one child, while others are able to handle the needs of several.
Photo by Kathleen Palumbo, Town Crier correspondent
As members of Canfield Village Middle School’s Leo’s Club, Della Colley, Delaney Bresnahan, and Morgan Leonard share their thoughts on what membership and its activities mean to them.
"Operation Christmas Carol is us giving back to the community," said member Morgan Leonard, adding that because she loves being involved and loves making people happy, she's glad the club was brought to the middle school.
Sharing her thoughts on membership, member Delaney Bresnahan, said, "We don't do it for selfish reasons. We do it because we know we should, because it's the right thing to do." Adding that she feels she's been blessed so much in her life, "I couldn't imagine waking up on Christmas day with no presents."
"It's like a family," said Della Colley of the Leo's Club, adding of Operation Christmas Carol, "its hard not to want to spend more. Christmas is about giving." Colley said she appreciates that the club exemplifies that kids can be as equally involved in community as adults.
One common thread is the manner in which the three come about funding their charitable activities. With Kerensky stressing that the students either offer to give up a gift of their own, or earn the money, Bresnahan, Colley, and Leonard all shared that they are required to do chores at home to attain the money.
Kerensky noted that in addition, although the club does no fundraising, they are fortunate to receive funds from private donors. Taking into consideration the meaning behind the club, there are no official yearbook photos, no T-shirts, and no recognition is sought.
Speaking in regards to "Operation Christmas Carol," Kerensky said the students are unaware of recipient names, and the teachers deliver the gifts, however, Bresnahan, Colley, and Leonard agreed that on Christmas morning, the kids for whom they provided are always on their mind.
"We get a lot of thank yous," added Kerensky.
He went on to say that in addition to "Operation Christmas Carol," members spend a lot of time at Youngstown Developmental Center, where they will serve a Christmas dinner. Throughout the year, they also offer babysitting services during school functions, put together the school's annual Veterans Day assembly, work the 4th of July parade, and last year, raised more than $7,000 for Haiti.
The awareness is not lost on these students that they, too benefit from these acts of philanthropy.
"You know you like the way it makes you feel to do something nice for someone," said Leonard, adding, "Don't you always want to have that feeling?"