Project HOP at Hopewell, Liberty

Liberty, Hopewell Join Forces, Make Friendly Wager to ‘Help Other People’
Posted on 02/14/2020
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Project HOP features two groups surrounded by stacks of donated clothesA class project that reaches the point of real community impact is called project-based learning. But when that project lives on the next year without any connection to the original class - and in partnership with another school - some might call it pure selflessness.

At last year’s “State of the Schools” address, Liberty Junior eighth-grader Emily Fuller shared with the Lakota community how Project HOP, short for “Helping Other People,” came to life. A simple challenge posed by her Media Design & Communication teacher, Moriah Walker, inspired Fuller to actually put her idea for a clothing drive into action. It was her response to the question, “What would make the world a better place?” 

A year later, with the support of classmates and friends Bryn Williams, Maddie Henderson and Alexa Schatzke, Fuller repeated the drive benefiting Reach Out Lakota at a whole different scale. She passed the challenge along to Hopewell Junior, to which the school’s Student Council, under the leadership of teacher Anne Caudill, responded with enthusiasm. They even introduced a wager that the principal at the “losing” school would have to sport the opposing school’s spirit wear. 

“I’m very grateful to Hopewell and everyone who has supported me, especially Mrs. Walker for not giving up on this crazy idea I had last year,” Fuller said. “It was an incredible opportunity to be able to dream it up, but I never imagined actually being able to pull it off.” 

At first, Williams joined in because “Emily is my friend and I want to support her in whatever she’s doing.” But as the project started to take off, her perspective shifted. “I realized this is actually going to make an impact on the community. It could actually change someone’s life,” she said. 

Williams also recognized the importance of staff support in empowering them to do something big. “When you have teachers who value your ideas and are always telling you that you can do it, it makes such a difference,” she said. 

Both schools challenged their students and staff to bring in gently used clothing, as well as new personal items like socks, underwear and toiletries. Liberty set a goal of 2,000 items, just over last year’s grand total of 1,700. On their final collection day, they had nearly 1,800 items and were still awaiting the final tally from Hopewell. 

“Hopewell is very competitive, so hopefully we can beat Liberty,” joked Hopewell eighth-grader Olivia Taylor. “If not, it’s really fun because we’re doing it for a good cause.” 

Fuller’s teammate offered up these words for the impact the project has had on her classmates, beyond the community they are serving. 

“It’s really good for kids our age to have something like this. We lose sight sometimes that we can make a difference,” Schatzke said. “Perspective is a big issue. While so many of us worry about getting a bad grade, it’s important to remember that others go home after school and don’t have food or clothing.”