In response to this harsh winter, members of the Poland Middle School PANDA (Prevent And Neutralize Drug and Alcohol Abuse) club hosted a blanket drive to donate to the Rescue Mission.
Club President, Noah Landry, 13, of Poland came up with the idea at the beginning of January and presented it to his Club Adviser and Poland Middle School Guidance Counselor, Teresa Dalesandro.
PANDA is a program that was started by Meridian Community Care and has been around for more than 30 years. The focus of PANDA is not only on drug and alcohol prevention but also on anti bullying through peer led prevention. Youth are encouraged to help make their school have a more positive environment through educating them on how to make better life choices. Kids make friends who believe the same things they do and support each other through the process. PANDA is currently in 16 schools throughout the Mahoning Valley.
Photo by Melissa Moliterno, Town Crier Correspondent
Members of Poland Middle School PANDA Leaders club held a blanket drive to help the Rescue Mission. Members pictured are, in front, Amelia D'Angelo, 14 and Rachel Mowad, 13. In back are Sammy Dwyer, 13, Conner Wilson, 14, Noah Landry, 13, Mark Pompeo, 14, and Christina Tremonti, 13.
The Poland PANDA club has about 50 members, grades 6-8 who meet every other week.
''PANDA helps students make positive life choices and helps kids find friends who believe the same way. The more the kids bond through events and meetings the more they get along,'' said Dalesandro.
Landry said he came up with the idea to hold a blanket drive after talking to his mom about the Rescue Missions needs during the cold weeks to come. Dalesandro helped Landry put the drive together and was able to get the whole school involved. The blanket drive lasted two weeks and was spearheaded by PANDA. Grades 5-8 came together to help make a difference in the lives of those less fortunate in our community.
''I feel like if I were in their position I would want to be given the same help. I will always try to help give back in my community,'' said Landry.
On the last day of the blanket drive, Dalesandro delivered the blankets after hearing on the radio that the Rescue Mission was in desperate need of blankets for the cold night to come.
An upcoming event that PANDA members are looking forward to is their annual Lock-in.