Lienesch's students said they enjoy the new job they've undertaken as a class. “It makes me feel like I'm worth something,” said Jewel Colter.
Kalie Triick agreed. “It makes me happy and with joy,” she said.
So far this year, Classmates Care has assisted more than 50 families in the district and the requests for help continue coming.
Lienesch said it's a lot of work for her students, but it is something they love to do and a good opportunity for them to find a way to serve others.
“They do a really good job and with our link students working with them, they are able to find the items, get them bagged up and delivered,” she said.
Corner, an eighth-grade student involved in the middle school “Links” program said he enjoys helping others. As a member of “Links,” Corner becomes a mentor to special needs students and helps them throughout the day in various tasks – whether it's working with them at different class periods, making sure they get their lunch, or just stopping by to say “Hi” and wish them a good day.
Corner said he especially likes being involved with the Classmates Care project. “I feel proud that I'm able to help other people and doing this I'm helping students here fill the requests and I'm helping the students who get the coats and winter clothing.”
He's been a “links” student since sixth grade. “I just really like it. It makes me feel like I'm able to help someone else,” said Corner.
Classmates Care was started as a nonprofit organization in 2012 by Thornapple Kellogg High School students Shea Repins, Jesse Parks and Devon Rademacher. It started when the three realized how often teachers were seeking assistance to allow students to go outside on cold winter days with proper coats, gloves, hats and boots.
Since 2012, the organization has been collecting gently used items to give to students in need, making sure they are ready for cold weather.
A special event will be held Dec. 6 at McKeown Kraai Professionals to take donations for the Classmates Care program. MKP, located at 500 Edwards St., Middleville, will have Santa's reindeer available for petting, feeding and photos. There will also be a hot cocoa bar, Christmas decorations and lights, holiday music and a festive “selfie” frame. Donations of used winter coats, boots and accessories will be accepted as well as financial donations for Classmates Care.