Grand Haven Area Public Schools' Community C.H.I.L.L. program is expanding this coming school year. The new Eastown Community C.H.I.L.L. will serve grades 5-8. It will take place from 3-5 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays at The Salvation Army, 310 N. Despelder St.
The program helps disadvantaged students with homework, which is where the name C.H.I.L.L. comes from: completing homework in a learning lab. It is funded in part by the Greater Ottawa County United Way and receives support from The Salvation Army.
Robin Leppanen, a Lakeshore Middle School counselor and a C.H.I.L.L. Board member, was part of establishing the River Haven Village program, which is in its ninth year. She said finding the funding to open a second location is reason to celebrate.
“This community shouldn’t stop dreaming because there’s lots of people who make those dreams come true,” Leppanen said.
Students in seventh and eighth grades will ride the bus from Lakeshore Middle School and work on homework for an hour. Once they leave, students in fifth and sixth grades will take a bus from White Pines Middle School and work on homework for an hour.
Each group will consist of 20 students. High school students also volunteer time to mentor the students in the program, said Kim Boersema, assistant to the principal at Lakeshore Middle School.
Students will work on a reward system. If they are good citizens, attend the program, and bring and work on homework every day, they will receive a reward.
Boersema said the gifts will include gift cards and ice cream cones. The Salvation Army also supplies after-school snacks for the students.
The students also give back to the community through four or five community service outings each school year. In the past, they have rang bells for The Salvation Army during the holidays, and worked with the Spread the Music Foundation and the Soup for All benefit.
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