Community service with a smile

Lindbergh High senior collects supplies for Dunbar Elementary School pupils

Lindbergh High School senior Abby Kaminski sorts the school supplies she collected last summer for Dunbar Elementary School. She sent letters to businesses and neighbors seeking donations of school supplies. Abby also ran a volleyball clinic for children at her church. Instead of charging for the clinic, she asked for donations of school supplies.

Lindbergh High School senior Abby Kaminski sorts the school supplies she collected last summer for Dunbar Elementary School. She sent letters to businesses and neighbors seeking donations of school supplies. Abby also ran a volleyball clinic for children at her church. Instead of charging for the clinic, she asked for donations of school supplies.

By BILL MILLIGAN

A community-service project performed last summer by a Lindbergh High School student still is paying dividends for pupils at Dunbar Elementary School in St. Louis.

Senior Abby Kaminski didn’t have an assignment per se, but conscious of Lindbergh’s character-education initiative, she wanted to do something for her community.

“Students started doing service projects around the school, raking leaves and stuff,” Abby said. “I thought about doing something for another school, something for students that aren’t as fortunate.”

Her mother, Carol, works for the Glaziers, Architectural Metal and Glassworkers Union, and Dunbar Elementary teachers meet in the union hall. Carol told her daughter about the challenges Dunbar pupils face and their shortage of school supplies.

By the end of June, Abby had decided to help all of Dunbar Elementary’s pupils.

“My first thought was to make backpacks for the 10 neediest kids, but when word got around about my project, I realized I was going to have more than that,” Abby recalled. “I decided to just let the school divide it up. It got to the point that I needed boxes to keep the stuff in.

“School supplies were taking over our whole living room,” she said. “My mom was telling me I had to keep it organized.”

Her mother agreed.

“Our house, school supplies were just everywhere,” Carol said. “When someone donated money, she went on the no-tax weekend and bought carloads of stuff. It was amazing. I’m proud of her.”

Lindbergh High School Assistant Principal Ryan Sherp stressed Abby’s initiative and determination to accomplish her goal.

“This was not an assignment. Abby got no extra credit or anything,” Sherp told the Mail Call. “Yes, we talk about character and community service here at school and we are applying to become a National School of Character. But she just took the ball and ran with it. That’s what makes it so darn special.”

Abby collected 277 notebooks, 82 packs of loose-leaf paper, 228 folders, 702 pencils, 44 rulers, 279 pens, 112 packs of crayons, 25 pairs of scissors, 36 pencil boxes, 113 bottles of glue, 11 backpacks, markers, colored pencils, note cards, lunch boxes, book covers and tape.

A local office-supply store “had a penny sale going on where you could buy three boxes of crayons,” she said. “They began looking at me when I came in like: ‘Weren’t you just in here yesterday?’ People at the check out asked me: ‘What are you doing with all these crayons?”’

Carol said Abby taught volleyball clinics.

Instead of charging for the clinic, Abby asked for donations of school supplies.

“The clinics were two-day things. One time she had 75 kids. She kept them organized and they learned. The parents were really happy. She worked hard,” Carol said.

“I averaged two to three hours per day if you count going around to companies asking for donations,” Abby said of the time she worked on the project over the summer.

“My friends didn’t know about it until the beginning of the school year. I was busy with the project so I didn’t really have time to tell anyone what I was doing.”

She did receive a Dunbar Elementary T-shirt in recognition of her efforts.

“She came in during a staff meeting and the teachers gave her a standing ovation,” Dunbar Principal Carla Cunigan said. “It meant a great deal for a student to do this for us. Now, when a student runs out of supplies, they just go to the supply room and get what they need.”

Abby said seeing the project through has given her a sense of accomplishment.

“I didn’t think I could do it on my own, but I set a goal and I achieved it,” she said. “I want to set other goals. I can do a lot more for people.”