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School ends year with community projects 

‘Houses’ build belonging through outreach

Godwin — Fourth-grader Si’anna Kanjia can see how getting a stuffed animal might make someone feel better, which is why she and the rest of North Godwin House Fire collected stuffed animals and greeting cards for Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital. 

“I think it will make (the patients) feel better when they don’t feel good,” Si’anna said.

North Godwin in the fall divided its school into “five houses”: Earth, Wind,  Fire, Space and Water. Besides building a sense of belonging at school, one of the program’s goals is to have the individual houses work together on community service projects.

The students came up with the idea, said Keontre Miskel, youth development coordinator and member of House Fire. Miskel researched places that accept stuffed animals and came across  Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital

“The stuffed animal donation supports our team, (our) medical team and most of all, our patients,” said Jeannie Brown, certified child life specialist and special projects coordinator at the hospital. “It becomes a small gesture of kindness with a greater impact on the patient as a soft, tangible item to squeeze on those most difficult days.”

The stuffed animal drive was held in April, along with opportunities for the entire school to color and write messages on pre-printed cards. The school collected 119 stuffed animals and 120 cards.

“I thought it was wonderful to make cards for those who are sick and having a hard time,” said fifth-grader Jordan Perry. 

Third-grader Madelyn Gomez-Villarreal said she enjoyed creating the fliers for the drive.

“With the fliers, we wanted to make people knowledgeable about the kids who were having a hard time and hope people would help by giving stuffed animals,” she said.

Fifth-graders Brianna Ocampo and Emilio Interiano, fourth-grader Kavis Davis and third-grader Madelyn Gomez helped deliver the stuffed animals and cards with staff on May 26, when all the houses hosted their community service projects.

In fact, as they walked outside, House Earth was preparing annuals out front to line the walk in Godwin’s colors of blue and gold.

Read more from Godwin:
In these houses, all belong
A door to reading

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Joanne Bailey-Boorsma
Joanne Bailey-Boorsma
Joanne Bailey-Boorsma is a reporter covering Kent ISD, Godwin Heights, Kelloggsville, Forest Hills and Comstock Park. The salutatorian for the Hartland Public Schools class of 1985, she changed her colors from blue and maize to green and white by attending Michigan State University, where she majored in journalism. Joanne moved to the Grand Rapids area in 1989, where she started her journalism career at the Advance Newspapers. She later became the editor for On-the-Town magazine, a local arts and entertainment publication. Her eldest daughter is a nurse, working in Holland, and her youngest attends Oakland University. Both are graduates from Byron Center High School. She is a volunteer for the Van Singel Fine Arts Advisory Board and the Kent District Library. In her free time, Joanne enjoys spending time with her family, checking out local theater and keeping up with all the exchange students they have hosted through the years. Read Joanne's full bio


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