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James Clemens turns homecoming into community service

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MADISON, Ala. (WHNT) - With the fall season comes football and homecoming for high schools. James Clemens High is set to play the Sparkman High Senators, but before the players take the field, the JCHS Jets are turning their sights to the community.

"Every morning, on the speakers it's like 'don't forget your shoes, cans, or whatever!'" Haelin Oh is a senior at James Clemens and the student body president. With the help of student government sponsor Melanie Turner, homecoming is becoming a school-wide public service effort.

"It's just going to be one huge give-back parade," said Turner, proud that her students are so excited about their selfless efforts.

Clemens students are asking the community to join in as they collect shoes, canned goods, toilet paper, and water for homecoming.

"They'll actually decorate the floats with those things so that afterward, we would donate them and it would have purpose," explained Turner. "Then we would be using our time and resources for a good thing."

Every class has their own theme and a correlating collection. In true homecoming spirit, they are all related to the game against Sparkman.

Freshman are "Soaking the Senators:" collecting recyclable water bottles and donating cases of water to the Boys and Girls Club.

Sophomores are "Rolling Over the Senators:" collecting toilet paper to donate to the Downtown Rescue Mission.

Juniors are "Canning the Senators:" collecting canned goods for Manna House.

Seniors are "Stomping the Senators:" collecting shoes and socks for Inside Out Ministries.

"How exciting for these students to do something with these homecoming floats, which generally get made, torn up, and trashed," said Julia Schmidt. Her son is a junior at JCHS, and she is proud to see the students take initiative to make a difference. "This way, it's a positive thing, they're donating to non-profits."

The collection will continue everyday until the big game, even during the parade. People attending the parade are invited to bring items to go towards the drive.

"We'll have kids walking alongside the float to collect things and add them to the float as we go," said Turner.

The unconventional homecoming has the whole school engaged -- and in the homecoming spirit.

"To me, it's still a traditional homecoming because homecoming is about bringing the community together," said Oh.

Turner is just excited that the students want to do something charitable during an important time in high school. "They run into my class screaming, 'I've got more toilet paper!' I mean, they're stoked."

The philanthropic efforts go beyond the classes' four big efforts. The cheerleaders, German club, and even the cafeteria staff have started drives of their own for homecoming.


  • Myra Osborne

    Love this whole concept! I’m a big fan of recycling and repurposing! I live in Fl and the news reached me; I’m Raleigh Schmidt’s Aunt.

    • Shevaun Bryan

      I’m from Florida myself; so happy that my story reached back to the Sunshine State. Thanks so much for watching/reading — and yes, the concept is amazing, I hope this becomes a tradition.

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