Several of the high school’s major clubs collaborated with the Developmental Assets Resource Network to collect 150 coats for their annual coat drive throughout October.
DARN board member and Leader of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Stephen Lewis said it was his idea to make DARN’s annual coat drive a collaborative effort with some of the high school’s major service-oriented clubs, including Student Council, Environmental Club, Key Club, Gender-Sexuality Alliance, Black Student Union, Bexley Asian American and Pacific Islander Club, Umoja and the Jewish Student Union.
“I thought it would be a great opportunity for our student community to become engaged in this activity,” Lewis added.
He explained the coat drive took place from Oct. 9 to Oct. 30, and each of the clubs were responsible for decorating and labeling a collection box for the coats. These boxes were placed at the entrances of the high school, middle school and each of the three elementary schools, Lewis added.
The goal of this drive was to collect new or gently used coats of all sizes to ensure that all Bexley students and families have access to warm clothing through the cold winter months.
As someone who is new to the district, Lewis said he sees this drive as a way for him to show what he wants to bring to the district as DEI leader.
“We never want to assume that every student has everything they need in order to be safe, to be comfortable and to enjoy life,” he said.
Fifteen-year DARN board member Kelly Salmon explained DARN’s mission is to meet community needs with community resources. DARN’s work is not only carried out by board members like herself, but also by community members who donate their time and money to help those in need, she said.
Salmon explained an important aspect of DARN’s mission is to acknowledge and provide for Bexley community members in need.
“I think sometimes people think that everyone in Bexley is rich and nobody needs anything, and I think it’s just a nice acknowledgement that we have a diverse community,” she said.
Salmon said DARN has been holding the coat drive every fall with a brief hiatus during the COVID-19 pandemic, but this is the first time they have collaborated with the district for the initiative.
Environmental Club adviser and science teacher Scott Logsdon also has a great deal of experience working with DARN and is passionate about their mission.
“Everything DARN does goes back to our student body and the families of our students in the district,” he said. “It’s morphed from someone’s living room to multiple people in larger spaces and collecting more money, food and clothing than I could have ever imagined.”
Logsdon explained the Environmental Club has worked with DARN every year he has been the adviser, gathering needed items and donating money. The club has also worked with DARN in the past through projects like food drives, surpassing their goal of collecting 1,000 cans of food one year, he said.
Environmental Club donates the proceeds from three to four of their monthly pancake breakfasts to DARN, Logsdon explained. He said the club gives them a cash donation, which is then used to cater to whatever need they are filling at that time. This can cover the costs of food, school supplies, warm clothing and gifts during the holiday season for families in need, he explained.
Logsdon said he was excited to see the clubs work together on this project and hopes similar large service projects will transpire in the future.
Unlike Environmental Club, GSA has never worked with DARN before, but adviser and social studies teacher Scott King-Owen said having more clubs working on the same projects is beneficial to widen the reach of the issues each club addresses.
“When you give groups of people a common goal to overcome, it helps to build their sense of community, their sense of togetherness,” he said.
Lewis said he is enthusiastic about the idea of collaboration across the district and takes pride in the generosity of the school’s students and the community.
He added the coat drive is a small part of his bigger goal as DEI leader to ensure the school is a safe and welcoming place for every single student to be.
“We want to create a culture K-12 where all families and all students feel like this is the best place to be,” Lewis said.