Students and staff help community during the holidays

SASA is one of the programs that helps the community.

In Hamilton, teachers and students are coming together to help benefit our community. Each program is trying to make an impact on the community by helping those in need.

Toys for Tots is a national program run by the U.S. Marine Corps, and Mr. Mark Behnke brought it to Hamilton this year. Mr. Behnke asked his freshman football team if they would be interested in helping and they all agreed the would help. With only twenty-two players and a couple toys from staff and students, they ended up with around forty toys for less fortunate kids.

“I told my team, if each person brings in at least one toy for a child, we will make twenty-two kids Christmas better than it would have been,” Mr. Behnke said. “You don’t have to do something large scale to make a difference.”

Toys for Tots is giving one simple gift to a child, but it’s much more than just a toy. It makes their Christmas something it wouldn’t have been.

English teacher Richelle Hoffman is also helping the community this year, but she is not only involved in one program, but two.  She runs the book drive and is involved with other women staff to get gifts for women and children at Women in Transition.

Although the gifts for Women in Transition has been going on for several years, this is the first year Mrs.Hoffman had her novels class help run the book drive. The drive wasn’t as successful as hoped when it was just the novels class, but once it was opened up to the whole high school, more books started to come in. No matter how successful each program was, Mrs.Hoffman, with the help of students and staff, are helping to make a difference.

SASA, of Students Assisting Students Anonymously, is another program helping the community. SASA was a program started six years ago by math teacher Blaine Lugten.  He was inspired to start it by his wife who was the principal of Fennville High who had SASA there.

Fennville’s program was very successful and Lugten saw a need here in Hamilton. Anyone who wants to help can be in the program. They currently have about twenty students in SASA. To help the community during the holidays, they go shopping for necessities for students in need. They keep a closet stocked full of items including shampoo, deodorant, toothpaste, etc. SASA has been around for six years but shopping at Christmas has only been around for five years.

“We help students in our district who have needs,” Lugten said. “Our goal is to help others, which we do daily. We would like to help as many as possible.” SASA helps many students all year but it especially makes a difference during the holidays.

All these programs help the community during the holidays in different ways. Some smaller than others, but no matter the size, each impacts our community positively and are greatly appreciated. So during tough holiday seasons, these programs help to spread cheer to our Hamilton community.


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