More than history: Erwin seventh grade class hosts nonprofit field day

Published 12:01 am Thursday, May 5, 2022

By Madeline Wagoner

ROCKWELL — For Erwin Middle School’s Brandy Frick, the opportunity for student involvement in the community proves that social studies is more than remembering history.

Each subject at the school has a communications project every year. After studying the Industrial Revolution and attending a professional development event about nonprofit work, the class collectively decided on running a nonprofit business for the assignment. Teachers had to approve the ideas students came up with, which included helping animals, homeless individuals and Ukraine residents.

Frick’s middle school class held a vote that resulted in a charity that benefits and aids the homeless. The next step was to brainstorm an overall goal for the business.

Gavin Loftis was the student who proposed the idea of putting together transition boxes for homeless individuals moving into permanent homes.

“The homeless need help, they can really struggle with getting jobs and finding places to live,” he said. “I just wanted to know how I could help them. It’s pretty cool to see my class and the community come together for something like this.”

The class set a goal of raising $1,000. With the help of Rowan Helping Ministries, they were given a list of common household cleaning supplies that were essential for individuals to have when transitioning from being homeless to having a home. Supplies included towels, wash cloths, full sheets, laundry detergent, dish sponges, dish soap, toilet brushes, dustpans and brooms. Students took it upon themselves to call local businesses to donate for their cause. They would need enough money and supplies to fill up at least 40 transition boxes. In just over a week, they raised $1,200.

“I’m honestly shocked,” Frick said when asked about exceeding the goal. “Don’t get me wrong, I believed the students could do it, it’s just great to see them making the phone calls themselves. Social studies is more than history, it’s communication and intersocial skills. I’m so proud of them.”

The seventh grade class sent out thank you notes to every business who supported their project. They chose Rowan Helping Ministries as their charity of choice to donate the boxes. With the students’ enthusiasm, Erwin Middle School plans to have earlier volunteer opportunities for the students starting next year.

The day before the event, students were lead outside where cardboard boxes were lined up to begin assembly. Each container was hand-assembled by the seventh graders, including every supply that was on the list Rowan Helping Ministries provided. Businesses and families also donated an assortment of canned and boxed food as well as clothing items. Rowan Helping Ministries Executive Director Kyna Grubb and Director of community relations Raeshawn Palmer stopped by to see what the class had done for their facility.

“We are so appreciative of our community partners and individuals. Even something so small can go a long way. We are so grateful with what this class has done, it’s amazing,” said Palmer.

Grubb said all the donations will be gratefully accepted by the facility which is set to be picked up from the school by next week including the donated food and clothes.

The class wasn’t finished with their project, yet. Frick had the class arrange and develop their own field day, an event common in elementary schools but never for middle schools. Students were in charge of coming up with games and crafting signs for the P.E. period they named Spring Event in honor of the warm, sunny and hopeful time of the year. Sno Biz, a shaved ice shack located in Granite Quarry, was present for the festivities. 50 cents of each three dollar snow cone would go toward the class’ business to purchase more supplies for the transition boxes. According to Frick, they are nearing the total of 60 boxes with $2,000 worth of supplies and will continue to make more with what they buy and receive.

The students chose and arranged all the games for the field day included arm wrestling, corn hole, tug-of-war, a homerun derby and tire flipping. The posters for each activity was made by the class with various art supplies including a poster listing the businesses who donated to them.

For more information about Erwin Middle School’s nonprofit, visit the website that was created by seventh grader Kaydence Spry at