Hollis Brookline club collects coats for children in need

H "B" The Change, a club at Hollis Brookline High School dedicated to performing charitable acts around the community, recently collected 100 coats for children in need, not counting other winter accessories.

The amount is double what the club collected last year. Co-president Jackie Haytayan credits more time to advertise for the massive increase in collected clothes. Haytayan created a flier that was posted on the Hollis Brookline Community Facebook page, and was also posted throughout the high school.

"The idea that parents would stop in to the high school just to drop off coats made me so happy," said Haytayan. "It also made me so happy to see the faces of the people who collected the coats from us. When (the kids) saw how many coats I had in my car, their faces were awesome!"

The club intended to collect the winter wear as part of Jordan’s Furniture’s Coats for Kids competition, which offers cash prizes to the schools that garner the most support for the fundraiser. However, the members of H "B" The Change decided to take a different route.

"We feel like they should be distributed to other places, and we don’t really care about winning. So, we’re not going to just give them to Jordan’s, we’re going to bring them to New Horizons in Manchester and the Soup Kitchen in Nashua," said English teacher and club advisor Ann Melim.

The club was formed by Melim, English teacher Lisa Danis, history teacher Becky Balfour, and a group of likeminded students who realized that something was missing from Hollis Brookline. Since its inception, the club has grown from 10 to 35 members and has drastically increased its breadth of service acts.

The group began by doing small things for those at school, such as giving out candy in between classes and making cards for teachers going through difficult times. But now, in addition to that, the students provide dinner for the men’s shelter in Nashua once a month, frequently help out at the Nashua Soup Kitchen and Shelter, and decorate teachers’ doors.

Every week, the club decides together what acts of charity they want to undertake.

"It’s spontaneous," said Melim. "At our meetings on Tuesdays, someone might say, ‘Hey, I went here and it was really awesome. Let’s see if we can do that.’"

Following this incredible accomplishment, H "B" The Change will continue to work hard this year to bring joy to the community.

"H ‘B’ The Change gives high schoolers a chance to give back to the community for the sake of making others happy, not keeping track of hours for NHS or for your resume (members are not allowed to use their time in The Change for hours). At the end of the day, seeing how happy we make people makes it all worth it," said Haytayan.

If you are a high school student interested in becoming a part of H "B" The Change, you can attend their meetings every Tuesday in room 224.

This column is written by Nicole Poitras, a senior at Hollis Brookline High School. She was among 51 high school journalists representing all 50 states and Washington, D.C., who attended the Al Neuharth Free Spirit and Journalism Conference in Washington in June.