Daily Point of Light # 1760 Nov 1, 2000

It is the intent of G.I.F.T.-Getting Involved For Tecumseh- to help fill the need for fundraising community and socially responsible individuals in the City of Tecumseh. By implementing this program into grades one through six, currently expanding it into the middle and high schools with grade specific projects, Tecumseh Public Schools will be continually reinforcing service-learning throughout the student’s educational journey.

As in many other cities of Tecumseh’s size, there are areas that are in need of attention. The need in the community for a “fixing up” of a building or unraked leaves at an elderly person’s home exists, but the real need is the institution of a mind set in the youth of the community. Some are taught at home that giving without expecting in return is important, but the majority of any population needs to be taught this concept and have it reinforced continually. This is the real need in any city. With that statement in perspective, Tecumseh Public Schools have developed a Service-Learning Program entitled G.I.F.T.-Getting Involved For Tecumseh.

In May of 1997, a letter was sent out by then Intervention Coordinator, Susan Reeder and Executive Director Of Communities in Schools, Sue Nielson to Tecumseh Public School Teachers and Principals in grades first through sixth. This letter was to gage reaction to forming a program designed to promote volunteerism. The 40% returned were all positive responses. Since then, the G.I.F.T. Program has been growing by leaps and bounds. Currently, 12 elementary classrooms are working on projects for the remainder of the 1999/2000 school year. These projects range from starting a school recycling center to building blue bird houses for a community park. Twenty-eight high schools are involved in a mentoring program in which students work with fifth graders. ALLY-Aiding, Listening, Learning with Youth is yet another project which incorporates working with a Vista/Americorps volunteer.

G.I.F.T. is designed to reinforce academic achievement of students involved in a project. All prepared activities are formulated by the Learn-Serve Grant coordinator and funded through a grant from the Michigan Department of Education. The activities will correlate with specific areas that each classroom is studying. For example, a third grade classroom developed a project on seatbelt safety after two of their students were injured in separate car accidents. Preparation of this service-learning project included extensive use of writing skills, computer skills and the study of government legislation—all subjects they were currently studying.

Community problems G.I.F.T. will address include Awareness of Public Safety, Maintenance and beautification of Public Parks, development of a Senior-Student Relationship program and an emphasis on filling wish list needs of nonprofit organizations in Lenawee County.

The hope in Tecumseh is to fill the need to raise community-minded, healthy role models that will aid before being asked.