American Heritage Academy’s (AHA) “Giving Back” program continues the spirit of giving throughout the year. AHA students in Cottonwood donate an hour of class time each week to local nonprofit organizations including; Red Rock Rehab, The Central Arizona Food Bank, Buena Vista Bright Futures and The A.R.C. To graduate from AHA, each High School Senior is required to create and implement a local community service project that range from Adopting a Grandparent to Diaper Drives and other creative programs that help community members.
According to Ron Miller, Principal of American Heritage Academy in Cottonwood, the goal of the Giving Back program is to teach students how to become future community leaders. AHA students start donating their time as early as elementary school. At AHA’s Camp Verde campus 4th grade students volunteer an hour of class time at the Camp Verde Senior Citizen Center on the first Monday of every month. Students pick up trash, pull weeds and also make cards for the residence to enjoy with their meals and special occasions.
Mandy LaBrie, Staffing Director, and Kathy LaPort, Activities Director, at Red Rock Care and Rehab in Cottonwood said that AHA students visit with their senior residence, assist with social activities, birthday celebrations and other events.
“American Heritage Academy students help our intergenerational program that mixes the young with the old. From visiting our residence to planning and decorating events, our residence love to interact with the students and really connect with them,” said Kathy LaPort.
Mindy LaBrie, a mother of two elementary, one junior high and two high school students that attend AHA, shared one of the big benefits for her children attending the school is the community outreach program, because it teaches her children leadership skills.
“I think there is a real generation gap when it comes to community service and a great part of AHA school culture is to fill that gap. When students volunteer it changes their perspective and helps them appreciate their world. We encourage people to come out and visit their local nursing facilities and communities to see what it is like and help make a positive difference,” said Mindy LaBrie.
Mindy’s daughter, Summer Breeze, a Senior at AHA decided to give back to residence who live at Red Rock through her year long senior project called “Adopt a Grandparent”. The first part of the project was to create a Christmas drive that consisted of working with AHA elementary teachers and collecting donation gifts from students once a week. The donated gifts were wrapped and passed out to Red Rock Care and Rehab residence on Christmas day.
“I want to bring a smile to our ‘Adopted Grandparents’ all year long and not just during the holidays.”Summer says, “In addition to the Christmas gifts, AHA elementary and high school students write a letter or create a card once a month to one of our ‘Adopted Grandparents,’ at Red Rock. Letters and cards are delivered by AHA students who volunteer at the facility.”
John Ask, Assistant Director of The Central Arizona Food Bank says their organization helps feed approximately 2,000 families per month. Their “Back Pack Program,” feeds approximately 130 children per week and provides weekend food supplies.
“Our nonprofit does not receive any funding or food assistance from the federal, state or county,” John said , “We are self sufficient and the extra weekly help from AHA students with stocking and clean up is a great benefit.”
Tyler Dietel, a senior at AHA, has made his Giving Back Project personal. He is giving back to the organization that kept his mother and himself alive by conducting a Diaper Drive that benefits Cottonwood’s local House of Ruth. House of Ruth helps more than 1,000 women and children annually who are dealing with homelessness and domestic violence. Tyler is collecting donations of diapers, infant clothing, and baby bottles from the community. To help, donations can be dropped off at American Heritage Academy’s main office located at 2030 E Cherry Street in Cottonwood by March 4, 2013.
To learn more about American Heritage Academy’s “Giving Back” program call (928) 634-2144 or visitwww.americanheritageacademy.org.