Torrington Middle School students pay it forward

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CHEYENNE, Wyo.- What started as a small community service project in a seventh grade Language Arts class at Torrington Middle School, spiraled into something much bigger.

Before the Thanksgiving holiday, the students wrote letters to friends and family members across the country to help collect donations to help families in need. Language Arts teacher, Josh Jackson, says the students collected more than $6,000 in less than two weeks. With the extra donations, the students wanted to continue to do more to help the community.

Jackson said, "It was all student driven. What ended up happening was, the kids wanted to try, rather than just in Language Arts write a simple letter, they wanted to actually do something with their learning and make a difference through their learning."

The students chose to visit Cheyenne's Comea Shelter. Nearly 44 students helped stuff stockings, organized pantries, prepared meals and served lunch Wednesday, December 21.

Seventh grade student Stoney Dimes says it was an eye-opening experience. Dimes said, "I noticed how grateful that we have to be because we have a lot of stuff that a lot of other people don't." She added, "Show people that we care and kids care too."

Jackson says the project was not only an opportunity to grow academically, but a chance for the students to grow as a person. He said, "It's just that whole point that it's authentic to them, it's real to them, and so it's driving them to want to succeed and to do better both in school and as a human." He added, "This is the first time that I've been here, and I've been here for the last nine years, that they've been able to reach their community, reach a community outside and totally send something to a different country."