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Girls on the Run Club raises money for homeless children at Christmas
Pictured front left to right: Chloe Ingle, A'Kyra Toms, and Riley Ingle. Back: La'Ryssa Harris and Brooklyn Pendleton at Washington Elementary Fundraiser.

Self-confidence and healthy living running club plans and implements a hot cocoa fundraiser to help those less fortunate
The Washington Elementary chapter of "Girls on the Run Club" is the only club representing Cleveland County in the Foothills region (based in Gastonia) of the national healthy lifestyle organization for young students. And this eight-girl team took their challenge of coming up with a community impact project very seriously.
Angela Skeith, advisor to the club at Washington Elementary explains the project like this, "they spent months preparing and planning for this community impact project through lessons that fine-tuned their plan for a successful fundraiser."
The running club seeks to inspire girls to be joyful, healthy, and confident using a fun, experience-based curriculum which creatively integrates the healthy practice of running.
Mrs. Skeith continues, "First they had a lesson on brainstorming, then about narrowing down their ideas to ones that are feasible to produce a profit. Once they selected the project, the club had a third lesson about implementation and putting action behind their idea. I helped them a little bit here, suggesting some general ideas like marketing."
The Girls on the Run Club is made up of the following third through fifth graders at Washington Elementary: Makenzie Deese, La-Ryssa Harris, Chloe Ingle, Riley Ingle, Brooklyn Pendleton, Maylee Smith, and A'kyra Toms, as well as Lauren Ramseur, a member from a local homeschool. All of the members completed the Region's 5K in Belmont, NC earlier this fall.
The girls in the club say they enjoy learning true beauty, exercise, health, and coping skills as part of their club's activities and were excited to talk about their hopes for the fundraiser.

"We ran laps to come up with ideas for a community project," Brooklyn Pendleton says during a hot cocoa transaction, "we had to make signs to tell the school about the sale," adds La'Ryssa Harris as she and Makenzie Deese prepare for another rush of students. Member Chloe Ingle chimes in that, "We hope the money we raise will buy homeless people the things they need!"
For their community impact project, the club decided to sell hot cocoa each Friday leading up to Christmas break at Washington Elementary School for 75 cents per cup. All students and faculty were allowed to participate and the club members ran the sales from the cafeteria as well as a couple other locations around the school.
When the club contacted the Rescue Mission to make arrangements, it was an answer to a Christmas prayer. Latarsha Gullatte, director of Heart2Heart Place, CCRM's mission for women and children explains how.
"Donations like these allow the moms (who are working so hard to put their lives back together) to be proud of the Christmas memories they are able to make with their children," said Mrs. Gullatte.
She continues, "Some of these children wouldn't even be with their mothers this Christmas if it weren't for Heart2Heart Place and the stability it provides to struggling families."
"The children that come to our mission with their moms will be blessed by these young ladies when they receive their own items to keep them warm during these cold months," Mrs. Gullatte commented about the use of the $350 donation from the month-long fundraiser.
Heart2Heart Place serves women and children all year long but sees an added need during the Christmas season as there are families right under their roof with no way to provide gifts for their own children.
To put it in perhaps a new perspective, "When a mother who is clean and sober for the first time in her adult life (sometimes since childhood) gets the opportunity to provide personal Christmas gifts to her children, her self-confidence in who God made her to be begins to grow, and we begin to see new life blooming from despair." Mrs. Gullatte summarized.
Maylee Smith, running club member also took the opportunity to recognize with her team that "We may not realize what someone is going through, even someone in our own school. But we believe there are students who deal with some of the same issues as the homeless and we would want to help them."
The club raised $350 during the month-long hot cocoa sale fundraiser to benefit Heart2Heart Place of Cleveland County Rescue Mission.
If you would like to learn more about Girls on the Run, visit www.girlsontherun.org.
The Cleveland County Rescue Mission operates a mission for men as well as the community Education & Employability Center on the third floor of the facility on Buffalo Street in Shelby, a mission for women and on Washington Street in Shelby, as well as transitional housing in the area. If you'd like to learn more about their ministry to the homeless, hungry, abused, and addicted please visit www.MyCCRM.org or call 704-751-1255. You can donate to CCRM by going online or by texting "HopeCCRM" to 95577.
Submitted by
Jocelyn Christenbury

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