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Ware Elementary students respond to clothing need at Longview Buckner Family Hope Center

Leaders change the world. For the Ambassadors leadership team at Ware Elementary School in Longview, Texas, that begins with making life better for those in their own community.

Upon hearing the Buckner Family Hope Center needed children’s clothing, the group decided to help with a clothing drive. Students of all ages pitched in as did school teachers and staff.

“We sent a notice home asking the parents to participate,” said Patti Willis, counselor at Ware Elementary and sponsor for the group. “The notice told the parents that their children would be practicing the character values – compassion, generosity and kindness. It is one of our goals to help the students learn to have good character.”

Past efforts like this have resulted in Ambassadors collecting 2,000-3,000 items. They far exceeded those expectations, collecting 3,448 items during the clothing drive.

“I was very surprised by the response,” Willis said. “We have selected other agencies that needed clothes/items of need, and I was always able to deliver the collection items in my car. This time your agency had to come with two vans two times to get all the items.”

Some of the Ambassadors are members of families that are served by the Family Hope Center, which is within half a mile from the school. Family Hope Centers provide a variety of social services for vulnerable children and families.

“This project belongs to the Ambassadors,” said Willis, a member of First Baptist Church in Longview. “They sorted, folded and boxed the items. They kept an ongoing count as the items came. As my Ambassadors were working, they were discussing the procedure that their mothers have to follow to be able to use their [Buckner] points to select items.” 

Susan Williams, who leads the Hope Center in Longview, said the Ambassadors efforts come at a crucial time for families.

“Keeping growing children in new clothes is a significant financial challenge for many of the families we serve,” she said. “We’ve been running low on clothing for school-age children for a while, so this collection meets a critical need.”

Beyond shining hope into the lives of vulnerable families, the generosity of Ware students, staff and leaders speaks volumes about the kind of leaders they are cultivating.

“If the size of their donation is any indication, the children at Ware Elementary care deeply about helping others,” Williams said. “We're grateful to the faculty and staff who engaged students in the process of sorting through and organizing the collected items.”

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