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Students serve communities in S.H.O.T.S. program

by Zack Crawford / Detroit Red Wings
This season the Detroit Red Wings and Fifth Third Bank are teaming up for the third year of the S.H.O.T.S. initiative (Students Helping Others Through Service), a program that encourages high school students in Southeast Michigan to volunteer their time and energy to self-generated community service projects.

Since the beginning of October, students who attend schools in the Genesee, Livingston, Macomb, Monroe, Oakland, St. Clair, Shiawassee, Washtenaw or Wayne counties have been eligible to register a team of up to six participants, then plan and complete a service project within their community.

The projects are judged on a monthly basis and, as an incentive, each month’s winning team receives a pizza party and tickets to a Red Wings game. In March, a grand prize will be awarded to the best overall project and will include up to six tablet PCs, recognition at Joe Louis Arena during the game on March 24 and a $530 donation to their school on behalf of Fifth Third Bank to support future outreach.

The panel that judges the projects includes Ken Kal, the “Voice of the Red Wings”; Trevor Thompson of Fox Sports Detroit; Pat Kaputo of 97.1 “The Ticket”; Dr. Darrius from 97.9 WJLB and executives from Fifth Third Bank and the Detroit Red Wings.

S.H.O.T.S. projects are judged based on their creativity, community outreach and impact. In November, seven teams completed projects that hit all of these criteria while enlisting the generosity and compassion of their schools.

The winning team for the month of November was the “Airport Interact Club” from Airport High School in Carleton, Michigan. The team assembled care packages complete with handmade blankets, $20 gift cards, mugs, tea, soup mixes, magazines and a gratitude journal for cancer patients receiving treatment in Monroe. 

Fifteen miles north, the “Fellowship of Christian Athletes” team from Southgate Anderson High School organized a door-to-door “scavenger hunt,” asking residents to donate food items which they later delivered to the local food bank S.A.C.E. CARES. The team helped to supply items for the 150-200 baskets that the food bank handed out over Thanksgiving.

Teams at Cousino High School in Warren and Andover High School in West Bloomfield sponsored similar canned food drives at their schools to raise much-needed goods for the Detroit Rescue Mission and Gleaners food bank.

One of Ken Kal’s favorite projects from November was put on by a group from Pinckney Community High School.

Students in the BuildOn Club at Andover High School sponsored a canned food drive that contributed over a thousand items to Gleaners food bank.
Team “D.O.P. – Doing Our Part” at Pinckney planned and sponsored “A Night in Their Shoes,” an event that invited students from grades 7-12 to spend a night sleeping outside in an effort to raise awareness for local hunger and homelessness.

On November 18-19, sixty-six students attended and slept in thirty-degree weather on the Pinckney High School Football Field. In addition, the event collected $700 for The Connection Youth Services, a local organization that helps teens and families in shelter crisis. 

Over 30 students at Pinckney High School slept outside for a night to raise awareness for local hunger and homelessness.
“It makes you think a little bit,” Ken Kal, who serves as an ambassador for S.H.O.T.S., said of the project at Pinckney High. “Whenever you see homeless people, you don’t really understand what it’s like until you put yourself in their shoes. And when you spend a night out in the cold, it gives you a chance to really think about the hardships that they go through. I thought that was pretty creative.”

Kal believes that the endeavors of S.H.O.T.S. come at an especially opportune moment, considering that many families who were previously financially stable now struggle with homelessness and severe poverty in the wake of the economy’s plummet. That solutions and help are generated by students makes S.H.O.T.S. exceptionally special.

“It’s nice to be involved in a program where the youth comes up with different ideas to help people out,” said Kal. “It’s kind of a win-win situation for everybody because the students have an opportunity to get creative and help a needy cause. And they do it by using their heads and coming up with different ideas to raise money. It’s great to be a part of that and see what they’re doing.”

The S.H.O.T.S. program kicked off at the beginning of October and will conclude at the end of February. Student groups can participate in as many or as few projects as they would like. Information including team registration details can be found at
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