GARLAND, T.X. - In keeping with the “Others Before Self” motto, ILTexas Garland High School students volunteered at the New Liberty Baptist Church on Thursday, December 16, as part of their ‘Blankets for the Unhoused’ community service project.

A table with plastic bag mats made by ILTexas students to give to the unhoused.

Students distributed plastic bag mats they created from recycled grocery bags as well as clothing and hygiene items to individuals currently experiencing homelessness. The plastic bag drive began in 2019 prior to the pandemic, with collections from students, ILTexas HQ, Arapaho Road Baptist Church, and Little Lions Daycare. The hygiene items were donated by the ILTexas Garland HS student body. The students' volunteer work was primarily supported by the Interact club, an affiliate of the Richardson East Rotary club based in Richardson, TX. 

For Karen Marx, principal of ILTexas Garland High School, partnering with New Liberty Baptist Church for the students' community service project has been exciting.

“This is our first time partnering with New Liberty Baptist Church and their community potluck and so we're very excited to have that partnership start,” she said. “We definitely are planning to have [Blankets for the Unhoused] be an annual event for us.”

ILTexas Garland HS students helping New Liberty Baptist Church members sort through clothing to give to the unhoused.

John Benningfield, who leads New Liberty’s weekly community potluck and oversees the church's homeless ministry, hopes students can make outreach efforts for the unhoused part of their daily lives. "This is a lifestyle that we want them to have in their hearts,” he said.

When asked what he hopes students take away from community service events like ‘Blankets for the Unhoused,' Benningfield highlighted the impact their efforts can have on others. 

“We're all just people, and it's just the basic things that people really need and really appreciate, like a handshake, a hello, learning someone's name, saying someone's name, giving them a cup of cold water [or] a hot meal," he said. "That's powerful.” 

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