Rolling Meadows High School senior Kayla Mueller, a National Honor Society member and resident of Arlington Heights, has been the catalyst for significant NHS humanitarian efforts at Rolling Meadows High School this school year. Under Mueller's motivational leadership, NHS instituted a game-collection drive to help stock a new game/recreation room for soldiers serving in Iraq.
Last September, Mueller was moved to assist a family friend's nephew, Christopher Williams, who had an idea to set up a game room for his fellow soldiers, in order for them to have a place to relax and have a little fun.
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"The troops in Iraq do many things for our country, so I thought this was a small way to give back to them," Mueller said. "It is great to know that our efforts have helped support our brave troops and provide them assurance that we are continually thinking about them."
"Kayla put out announcements and we collected all kinds of games, DVDs, and the like," said NHS sponsor Katie Page, a Rolling Meadows High School science teacher. "The items were delivered to the Army base and we received a letter back from the troops, thanking us for our efforts."
Mueller also generated an unrelated T-shirt drive in which hundreds of T-shirts were collected at the school. The ambitious student then drove the T-shirts to Miami of Ohio University, where they will be delivered to needy recipients in Jamaica and Colombia.
The impetus for the T-shirt drive was Mueller's recollection of stories her sister Andrea told her of the grinding poverty she witnessed when she participated in a volunteer mission in Jamaica last year. She knew that the surplus of T-shirts that she and her classmates possessed could be put to good use for those who had next to nothing.
"I contacted Dr. Karen Montgomery from Miami University (Ohio), the president of the Ambassadors for Children Club, who had organized my sister's trip," Mueller explained. "She said that students from the university could carry the shirts with them when they go to Jamaica and Colombia this year during spring break."
Within a month the staff and students of Rolling Meadows High School had donated about 400 gently-worn shirts.
"As I folded the shirts and packed them into paper bags over the Thanksgiving Holiday," Mueller reflected, "I kept thinking of how much they would be appreciated."
Mueller is convinced that the selfless efforts of everyone who participated in these service projects will continue to make a difference in the lives of people on both ends of the giving and receiving spectrum.