Optimists celebrate, appreciate achievements of local youngsters

Claire Fitzgerald and Peter Smith, eighth-graders at St. Joseph School in Cockeysville recently received the Timonium Optimist Club's award during Youth Appreciation Week.

Youth Appreciation Week is an annual Optimist International program. The recipients of this year's awards were announced at a dinner and received gift cards, plaques and citations from county representatives.

Claire's achievements include academic competitions such as It's Academic, Catholic High Math Olympiad and IND Scholympics, as well as involvement in student council, drama, choir, photography, ushering at church and other community service projects.

In addition to achieving straight A's and being selected to be a gifted and talented student at Johns Hopkins, Peter is an altar server and sacristan at church, served in student government and was a Boy Scout for several years. He is also involved in soccer, drama, and It's Academic.

In addition to Youth Appreciation Week, the Optimist Club also hosts a Student of the Month award honoring students from 10 area elementary and middle schools. The December awards dinner was held on Dec. 3, at the Timonium Crowne Plaza.

December's Student of the Month, Kelly Caubo, is an eighth-grader at St. Joseph. She has maintained an A+ average since sixth grade, and is a participant in her community, baking and serving for My Sister's Place, greeting parishioners at Sunday Masses, making sandwiches for Our Daily Bread and collecting food via the school's Carpool Pantry program.

She also participates in St. Joseph School's photography and production clubs, academic competitions, and is a member of the Baltimore County Fencing Group.

Congratulations to all these students on their accomplishments.

Children and families of Ashland's Preschool Center's Little Helping Hands project collected hats, mittens and gently used coats for the needy this Christmas season. The clothing was given to the Assistance Center of Towson Churches, which then distributed the items to children.

Also at Ashland Presbyterian Church, the Christian Education Committee decided to create care packages for a military person currently deployed in Afghanistan. Committee members knew this kind of project would take a great deal of time, so they allowed students to work during class time, Nov. 11-Dec. 16.

The younger three classes were responsible for earning money for items needed, decorating boxes for shipping, shopping for items and packing them on their final day. They then celebrated with a Pancakes for Peace breakfast on Dec. 16.

Thanks goes to Debbie Modisette and her family, which dedicated many hours to this project. The packages were mailed in time for them to arrive in Afghanistan on Christmas. Overall, this was a wonderful experience for the children and it served as a reminder for all that no matter how little we have, or how small we may feel, we are all capable of spreading love and peace.

In keeping with the spirit of the holidays and giving back to the community, children at St. Vincent's Villa were motivated to interact with one of the other programs within the Catholic Charities of Baltimore community.

Under the auspices of the afte- school group known as Kids at Work, they came together to help Our Daily Bread by sponsoring a food drive.

The children designed posters or decorated fliers and placed them on the campuses at Dulaney Valley and Pot Spring. The drive lasted a little more than a month and they were able to put together 15 large boxes of food.

On Dec. 27, four children, several therapists and staff took a trip to Our Daily Bread and delivered the items. Sabree Akinyele gave them a tour of the facility. The children learned that more than 600 homeless people are fed daily there for lunch and there has to be at least 55 volunteers daily for the lunch to be successful. With 55 volunteers a day that equals about 7,000 volunteers a year.

Akinyele showed the group the area where the food donated from local churches and schools is stored as well as the bread room and canned goods room. They were told that if it weren't for those donations, guests wouldn't be able to eat or take a bagged lunch with them. This made the children feel wonderful about the work they had done to help those participants at Our Daily Bread.

Just a reminder that schools will be closed on Jan. 21 in observance of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday.

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