12/01/2011 - By Gayle Irwin
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They gather weekly, brainstorm ideas, and develop and execute projects to help others in the community. They are not part of a 501©(3) organization, not a group doctors, not even a group of well-known philanthropists. They are tomorrow's leaders, and they are dedicated to learning, sharing, and helping.
A group of Dean Morgan students began meeting this semester to help various groups in the community. Their service started by helping animal welfare organizations. For example, in October during National Adopt a Shelter Dog Month, the Comet Heroes, as their club is known, created posters to promote dog adoption, helped publicize a fundraising event for Rescue Rangers, and created toys and bandanas for animals helped by the Casper Humane Society and Rescue Rangers, an organization that transports pets in need of new homes.
Yasmin Juarez and Nicholynn Garbutt are two members of the Comet Heroes Club, started this year by Dean Morgan Language Arts tutor Chris Lenihan. Each girl said she joined the club because she wants to help the community.
"I want to help society, and I want to help the Humane Society adopt out pets," Yasmin said.
Nicholynn echoed Yasmin's reasons for joining the club.
"I love animals," she said, "and our club has been helping animals."
Animals and children have a natural connection, a primary reason Lenihan said she steered the club's first endeavors toward pets.
"All kids love animals, and it's important for them (the students) to realize their responsibility (in the community)," Lenihan stated. "These projects will help them to grow into responsible adults."
This month's focus turns toward their fellow students as the club plans a Winter Warehouse. Dean Morgan students can earn Comet Bucks for good deeds done at school then use those "dollars" at "a store" set up at the school. The girls and their clubmates will help the students shop and also gift wrap items purchased.
"Students can earn Comet Bucks for being good and doing good deeds," Nicholynn said.
Teachers and administrators will donate new and gently used items for the Winter Warehouse, Lenihan said. The "store" will be open on December 19 and 20th.
Lenihan established the club because she believes "it's important for kids to have the opportunity to give back the community" and because she wanted kids to "feel good about doing good" for others.
About 10 students participate, although not all show up every week. Yasmin and Nicholynn have attended most of the meetings.
As they look toward the future of their club, both girls have ideas of projects they would like to do. Nicholynn said she would like to continue helping organizations find homes for animals, through putting up flyers and posters. Yasmin would also like to see more projects to help animals but also said she envisions small concerts in the neighborhood around her school, helping to bring students and neighbors together.
Lenihan sees something similar in the club's future. She visualizes students helping people with projects such as snow shoveling, recycling and visiting nursing homes.
"I'd like to see us branch out into the community, getting more involved in our neighborhood with things like shoveling sidewalks this winter and cleaning up the environment," she said.
Wearing their newly-created Comet Heroes tie-dyed t-shirts, Yasmin and Nicholynn say they look for ways to be heroes to others, through kind words and kind acts.
"I like to encourage people," Nicholynn said.
"I enjoy helping others," said Yasmin. "If someone needs a pencil or something else, I try to share, to help when I can."
As they and their Comet Heroes clubmates gather this month, they will be heroes not only to the community's homeless animals through the donation of toys and other items, but they will be heroes to their fellow students as they plan and prepare the Winter Warehouse. This is the season that focuses on giving, and these students give of themselves, extending kindness to their fellow students and to the community. 'Tis the season of giving, the season for Comet Heroes.