Pantry grows to provide additional benefits to those in need

In an effort to provide students with assistance beyond the scope of education, one Counselor at Options Schools began a pantry program that has grown immensely over a short period of time.

Started by Options-Noblesville Counselor Devin Hines, the Options Pantry began at the start of the 2018-19 school year, roughly 18 months ago.

With initial support from Grace Church, the pantry consisted of non-perishable items that were available to students and their families. When Hines left her role with Options in December 2018, the future of the pantry was up in the air before Instructional Assistant Elizabeth Essig volunteered to carry on the cause.

“It was such a positive thing for all of our students to have access to food and other items, if they ever needed them,” said Essig. “I didn’t want it to end and with my role, I have some time to assist, and I didn’t mind helping since the benefit was evident.”

Following overseeing the pantry through the end of the 2018-19 school year, Essig not only wanted to see the pantry continue, but grow.

After learning that the pantry would no longer receive assistance from Grace Church, Essig received a recommendation to reach out to the Hamilton County Harvest Food Bank. With help from Anita Hagen, Executive Director of Hamilton County Harvest Food Bank, the Options Pantry had secured the support it needed to increase its reach.

“I went with (Options-Noblesville Principal) Adam Barr to meet with Anita (Hagen) and discuss some possibilities,” said Essig. “Anita was really excited to talk about the pantry because of the uniqueness surrounding a school having its own pantry. She came in to look at the space we had, and things took off from there.”

By moving the pantry’s location to a room in the heart of campus, any interested students could easily access items they needed before or after the school day. Essig also saw an opportunity to increase the benefits of the pantry by expanding selection choices.

Having started with non-perishable foods, the pantry has since added perishable foods, hygiene products, gently used clothes, a book exchange and educational flyers on vaping, second-hand smoke and other important topics.

“There have been a number of supporters in addition to Anita and the rest of the Hamilton Country Harvest Food Bank team,” said Essig. “We receive a weekly donation of fresh produce and other perishable items from the White River Food Pantry through Options parent Sarah Reiff. I also was able to obtain monetary donations from a relative and through employee contributions to the Options In Education Foundation. We even have some students bringing in donations.”

If you are interested in making a contribution to the pantry, donations can include non-perishable foods, hygiene products, books, gently used clothes and monetary contributions to be used to purchase additional items. To learn more how to get involved, email Elizabeth Essig to help make an impact.

 

About Options Schools
Serving students in grades 6-12, Options Schools are free, public charter schools with brick and mortar campuses in Carmel and Noblesville & a new campus opening in Westfield in August 2021. Options also offers additional programs that serve students throughout the state of Indiana (serving over 90 school corporations). With a high-quality, individualized approach, Options was founded in 2002 and specializes in providing students with an inclusive environment and a student-to-teacher ratio of 15-to-1.

 

 

Making the Holidays merry for others

Since Options Schools was founded in 2002, service-based learning has been a major part of the foundation upon which Options was built.

In order to graduate from Options and receive a diploma, every senior is required to complete a service-based learning project known as Senior Institute. Through the project, students are expected to leverage the skills that they learned through their practical application experience to complete a project with minimal supervision. The Senior Institute Project provides students with an opportunity to explore an area that interests them, benefit a community, demonstrate prior learning and learn something new.

At Options, that selfless mindset tends to stretch beyond Senior Institute students and an example of that can be found in a project that is currently in its final stages. With the Holiday season in full swing, multiple groups within Options Schools participated in community service projects to benefit local children and their families. The Options-Carmel and Options-Noblesville campuses have spent the last couple of weeks working with organizations that help make the Holidays special for local families.

Options-Carmel paired with Foster Fairies, Inc., an organization founded in 2013 to positively impact the lives of local children in the foster care system, primarily by means of fulfilling children’s needs and wishes as well as creating opportunities for individual growth and development. Each Carmel advising group had a child to sponsor for the holiday season.

Outside of the gift collection for Foster Fairies, another member of the Carmel team helped make an impact with help from a friend in the state of Ohio. Joe Hopper (Options-Carmel Safety Specialist) obtained several boxes full of toys that were donated by a friend who owns Dollar Tree and Dollar General stores in Ohio. The items will be donated to Toys for Tots so they can benefit a number of local children.

Options-Noblesville paired with the Good Samaritan Network and took part in their annual Holiday iSponsorship program, which directly coordinates a large Holiday Assistance Distribution program in Hamilton County. The program provides basic holiday provisions (Holiday food, clothing, toys, meals, etc.) for countless individuals and families.

On behalf of Foster Fairies and the Good Samaritan Network, we would like to thank all of the Options families that showed generosity by providing countless items that will help spread Holiday Cheer even further this year.

‘Tis The Season! (Dunagan’s Blog)


Hello families,

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving break. We had a wonderful Thanksgiving celebration prior to the start of the break, and I wanted to personally thank all of the students & families that participated and helped make it a really nice event.

We are now in the final stretch of the first semester, with finals and final projects are quickly approaching. Winter Break isn’t too far away either!

With the holiday season upon us, we are taking part in a campus-wide community service project with Foster Fairies Inc. to benefit local children. The project involves Options-Carmel advising groups serving as sponsors for a child who will receive gifts that the child has listed on their “wish list.” We believe once our students see the needs and wants on their peers’ wish lists they will be humbled and want to continue to help those in need in the future. For more information about the program, or to get involved, email Jenny.

I also wanted to share a reminder about the bridge program that we will be starting at Options-Carmel in January, as we will be expanding to serve students in grades 8-12 for the spring 2020 semester. As we look to the future and the opening of the Options-Westfield location in August 2021, we are excited to welcome new families into the Options Family!

Please see the list of important dates below:
December 2-12: Foster Fairies, Inc. donation collection
December 13: Delivering gifts to Foster Fairies, Inc.
December 18: Full E-Learning Day

December 23-January 6: Winter Break (Students return on Tuesday, January 7)

I am so excited to finish our first semester together here at Options!

Happy Holidays!

— Dunagan

 

Connor & Maddie Reiff featured in Noblesville Magazine

A pair of Options-Noblesville students, Connor (10th grade) and Maddie Reiff (7th grade) were featured in the “Student Spotlight” piece for the November issue of Noblesville Magazine. The brother/sister duo has collaborated on a number of community service projects, one of which was recognized with national honors.

The full article can be read at the link below:

A limited number of seats remain available at Options-Noblesville, Options-Carmel & in the Options-Distance Education program.

 

Freshman Honored for Volunteer Service with National Awards

Connor Reiff with Noblesville Deputy Mayor Steve Cooke


NOBLESVILLE, Ind. – Connor Reiff, 15, of Noblesville, a ninth-grader at Options Charter Schools, has been honored for his exemplary volunteer service with a Certificate of Excellence from The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, and with a President’s Volunteer Service Award.

Presented annually by Prudential Financial in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP), The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards honors young people across America for outstanding volunteer service.

“Across the United States, young volunteers are doing remarkable things to contribute to the well-being of the people and communities around them,” said Prudential CEO Charles Lowrey. “Prudential is honored to celebrate the contributions of these students, and we hope their stories inspire others to volunteer, too.”

Certificates of Excellence are granted to the top 10 percent of all Prudential Spirit of Community Award applicants in each state and the District of Columbia. President’s Volunteer Service Awards recognize Americans of all ages who have volunteered significant amounts of their time to serve their communities and their country.

Options Schools nominated Connor for national honors this fall in recognition of his volunteer service. Known as the “Can Opener Project,” Connor’s most-impactful service project involved his sister Madeline and benefitted the White River Christian Church food pantry. In order to make canned goods more accessible to food pantry guests, Connor and Madeline worked together to raise money and awareness, before donating over 355 can openers to food pantry guests. Connor has served as a volunteer at the WRCC food pantry since the fall of 2015. The project also extended to benefit Noblesville Schools’ food distribution program.

“Connor Reiff has been a valuable member of the White River Christian Church Food Pantry volunteer team for several years,” said Fred Knoll, White River Christian Church Missional Living Pastor. “He overheard a food pantry guest mention that he would accept canned food from our food pantry if he owned a can opener. In response, Connor has collected hundreds of can openers and donated them to food pantry guests to ensure they are all able to open canned food to help feed their families.”

“During the project, I found myself creating friendships with both the volunteers and the people I was able to help,” said Connor Reiff. “Whether they were guests or volunteers didn’t matter, what mattered most was that nobody went hungry. I didn’t do this just to benefit the food pantries, I did it to help the food pantry families, the guests and their families and my family.”

Active in Boy Scouts of America, Connor is close to beginning his Eagle Scout service project and has been involved in numerous service projects both as a Boy Scout and Cub Scout. Along with his sister Madeline, Connor ran a lemonade stand at New Hope Presbyterian Church and raised over $600 for the church’s library in three years.

The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, sponsored by Prudential Financial in partnership with the National Association of Secondary School Principals (NASSP), recognizes middle level and high school students across America for outstanding volunteer service.

“Connor is a very hard working and compassionate student here at Options Charter School-Noblesville,” said Options-Noblesville Principal Adam Barr. “He continues to put himself before others and seeks to make other feel accepted in their own skin. Here at Options we strive to allow all students to Belong, Believe and Achieve. Connor has been a great asset in assisting in this goal.”

 

About Options Schools
As free, public charter schools, Options Schools are designed to support the academic and social needs of students that haven’t found success in the traditional public school environment. At Options, students are encouraged to explore and embrace their individuality in a caring, supportive, and inclusive environment.

Through small class sizes and an individualized academic approach, the outstanding and highly trained instructors and staff of Options propel students to achieving academic success both in high school and their future endeavors.

 

About Prudential Spirit of Community Awards
Prudential Spirit of Community Award application details were distributed nationwide last September through middle level and high schools, Girl Scout councils, county 4-H organizations, American Red Cross chapters, YMCAs and Affiliates of Points of Light’s HandsOn Network. These schools and officially-designated local organizations nominated Local Honorees, whose applications were advanced for state-level judging. In addition to granting Certificates of Excellence and President’s Volunteer Service Awards, The Prudential Spirit of Community Awards selected State Honorees and Distinguished Finalists. Volunteer activities were judged on criteria including initiative, effort, impact and personal growth.