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The group of exchange students display some of the items they donated to the needy this Christmas season including shoes, deodorant, tooth brushes and toothpaste.

Exchange students gave back this holiday season as a thank you to the community that is playing host to them. 

Program Administrator of Cultural Homestay International (CHI) Michelle Stage met with 64 exchange students Dec. 14 in Murfreesboro to drop off donations to the local representative of the Department of Children Services.  They also took over 50 jackets to Duck River Gear Headz for their coat drive for the homeless.

Stage wanted to do something for the local community even though CHI and previous students have done donation programs for other countries in the past.

“One year we bought shoes for kids in Uganda but I thought we would do something a little different, something local,” said Stage.

Stage said she wanted to show the community that the exchange students give back to the community they stay in for the year.

“A lot of people don’t know that the exchange students give back a lot to the community,” said Stage.  “They’re always doing an act of kindness for their host families and giving back to the community when they can.”

Stage said she was inspired to help the local DCS when she talked to a DCS worker. The worker said since kids are given a limited supply from their home, DCS has a closet that’s available for anyone to grab what they need and it is starting to get a little empty. 

“Well, it shouldn’t be empty for a long as we filled up her vehicle” said Stage proudly.

According to Stage, the students come from various countries including Belgium, France, Russia and China and only go to school for the school year, 10 months, while on an education visa.

Stage said she wants everyone to see that the exchange students want to give back to the community.

“They love being here. I have three at Tullahoma High School this year and if they could, they would move here. They love the high school.”

Items that were donated were clothes, shoes, toothbrushes, tooth paste, hair supplies, coloring books, coloring pencils, deodorants.  All the items were from a list of supplies provided by DCS.

Anyone interested in hosting an exchange student can email CHI at

Kyle Murphy may be reached at

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