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Jefferson Band Helps Community

Above, Jefferson Middle School sixth grader, Ava Morris, brought in 32 winter items for the Jefferson Band’s Winter Drive pictured alongside one of the organizers of the project, Mallory Atwater. Below, Jefferson Middle School band member, Allison MacCallum, hung wish ribbons on the maple trees in front of Jefferson school. Students wrote anonymous holiday wishes on the ribbons as part of a Jefferson Band’s way of spreading hope and cheer.

Jefferson Middle School band program has had to move away from its normal, large-group performances this year but members have directed their energy towards different ways to positively impact their school and city through personal performances and developing projects for community outreach. Band Director, Carrie Pawelski, challenged band members to come up with ideas to help spread joy, positivity and hope to their community through these trying times.

Band members organized a winter gear drive to collect new hats, gloves and mittens for a local organization, “Keeping Each Other Warm in Jamestown, NY” (KEOW), after seeing a photo of scarves tied around trees in a large city. The purpose of KEOW is being there for the community, in one small way during one season, by extending a caring hand to help each other. The group hangs clotheslines throughout the city where people donate winter wear so that people can take whatever they need.

“I was only going to have one large ‘hoorah’ – put items out on a specific date and be done. I put up a post on Facebook- even more people had stuff to give! Being a Jefferson School alumna, I am personally and exceptionally proud of these students for jumping into action with humble and gracious hearts,” said Georgeanna Guiffrida Ribbing, KEOW executive director.

Jefferson band students created posters to advertise the project, made daily announcements and encouraged their peers to bring in items. The Jefferson classroom that collects the most items wins a surprise prize. Jefferson eighth graders, Mallory Atwater, Makenzie Graham, Lydia Simpson and seventh grader, Allison MacCallum, have been the project organizers of this project.

“We wanted to try and make this winter as easy as possible for people in need,” said Mallory Atwater. “It’s important to do activities like this because it truly feels amazing to give back and students should always be involved in other things besides school because personally, it makes me feel happier and more motivated. I absolutely love being a part of Jefferson band because it pushes me to work hard and keeps me involved. Plus everyone is so welcoming and helpful and when we all put our minds to it our band sounds phenomenal. Playing an instrument helps me express my feelings through music and it’s just a different feeling to be able to play an instrument and that right there just makes me a better person.” 

In addition to helping with the KEOW project, Allison MacCallum also came up with an idea to help spread hope and holiday cheer throughout Jefferson school. Students wrote an anonymous holiday wish on a ribbon and then hung their ribbon on the maple trees lining the sidewalk leading to Jefferson’s main entrance. Not only will students have a chance to make a wish for the season, the final project will have a visual impact of hope and unity outside of the building.

“I read a book about a similar idea in third grade and I thought this idea would be perfect,” said Allison.

“It lets anyone make a wish about anything, and anyone can read them and be encouraged during these hard times to take a minute and think about someone else.  I think it’s important for students to also do things like these because it is teaching me responsibility and hard work. There are multiple roadblocks I have come across but instead of taking the easy way out and giving up I had to come up with a solution. That is one of the hardest things to learn because there are all different things that can happen but as long as you don’t give up, you are doing the right thing. Being in the band has not only helped me become a better student but a better person. It’s safe to say that if I hadn’t been in band and Dr. Pawekski hadn’t been my band teacher, I wouldn’t be doing this wish tree project or helping the community.

“I thought there was no way I could do something like this. Band has helped teach me the importance of building community within our band, school, and even city. Not to mention I have made so many amazing friends.”

Should you want more information for KEOW, call (716) 229-0477, email keepingeachotherwarminjny@yahoo.com, or check out their Facebook and Instagram pages.

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