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Athens students send cheer to troops for Charity Week

February 19, 2014

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Louise Downs-Blain, founder of Desert Angels, a charity that sends care packages to members of the U.S. armed forces deployed overseas, shows her thanks to Athens High School students during a pep rally at the school Feb. 14.

It’s not easy for the Athens High School Student Congress to pick a deserving charity to focus on during the school’s annual Charity Week.

Kristy Pierce, faculty advisor to the Athens Student Congress, said that in the fall, various charities approach the school to be considered as the recipient of the students’ efforts, explaining that charities have learned about the school’s reputation for fundraising.

Last year, Athens High School raised more than $41,000 during Charity Week.

“Athens is really unique,” said Athens Hugh School Principal Lara Dixon. “It is truly unparalleled. I’m honored to be a part of such a great group of people.”

This year, the students hoped to raise $35,000, to benefit Desert Angels. The group sends care packages to members of the U.S. armed forces deployed overseas.

The Student Congress picks its top four choices and invites representatives from those charities to make their presentations, after which the Student Congress picks the recipient.

“The Student Congress takes choosing the charity very seriously,” Pierce said. “They pick a cause they think the students will get behind.”

Charity Week kicked off Feb. 8 with a skating party at the Troy Sports Center, followed by a pancake breakfast Feb. 10 at the school that more than 450 students attended. A film festival of student movies was held at the school Feb. 11, which 750 students attended, followed by a service project at the school that evening where students, parents, teachers and community volunteers assembled care packages and wrote letters to the troops.

“This is probably the most excited I’ve ever seen the student body, as a whole,” Pierce said. “They’re the most fired up I’ve ever seen.”

Senior Megan Sterba, president of the Athens Student Congress, has been volunteering for Charity Week for the past four years. She said that last fall, the school had a USA theme day and football game. Sterba said the stands were filled with fans wearing red, white and blue.

All those wearing their true colors that evening were on best behavior, Sterba said.

“We behaved the best because we were representing America. Our student council knew this was something we could really get behind.”

Charity Week concluded with a pep assembly Feb. 14, where the students learned they had raised slightly more than $56,000, surpassing last year.

“I will say, by far, this is one of the best weeks of the year,” Sterba said.

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