PIke County Upward Bound students reach out

Published 6:09 am Friday, December 9, 2011

The Pike County high school students enrolled in the Troy University Upward Bound program have gone beyond county lines to help make Christmas a little brighter for the children of those who continue to struggle from the devastation of the tornado that ripped through Tuscaloosa on April 27.

Ashley Johnson, Upward Bound counselor at Troy University, said 69 Upward Bound high school students participated in a toy drive to benefit the tornado victims.

“One of the things that we do each year is provide different opportunities for the students,” Johnson said.

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“This year, we wanted to offer them the opportunity to participate in a community service project. Although, this project is not in Pike County, the devastating tornado that hit Tuscaloosa has impacted the entire state and we wanted to do something for the children of the victims to make Christmas more special for them.”

Johnson said many of the victims of the April tornado are still trying to recover from the damages and continue to deal with the stresses that come from such loss.

“This is something that we can do that might lessen their burdens,” she said.

Each Upward Bound student was asked to donate one new, unwrapped toy and they responded with great generosity, Johnson said.

“We collected more than 100 toys and joined with the Tri Beta organization here at the university in collecting toys for the children of the victims of the April tornadoes,” Johnson said. “The students were very generous in their giving and we hope this project will instill in them to desire to be community servants.”

Johnson said Upward Bound is a program for high school students whose parents don’t have college educations.

“These students will, hopefully, be the first in their families to attend college,” she said.

“We work closely with the students while they are in high school so they will be successful in passing the GED and to prepare them for the standardized college exams so they can achieve the scores necessary to get into college.”

Johnson said the Upward Bound students learn that with dedication, commitment and sacrifice, they can achieve their goals in life.

“But they learn that they have to give up some things they might want in order to achieve future goals,” she said.

Johnson said her hope is that this community service project will encourage the Upward Bound students to be willing to reach out to others without expecting anything in return.