STEM students.JPG

From left, THS students Kenzie Lenderman, Katherine Tyler, Kennedy Butcher, Katharine Hills and Sydney Nunez ask for donations from the community to go toward their STEM class birthday box project, providing a box of goodies for elementary school children that cannot afford a true birthday celebration.

Five THS students enrolled in a STEM service learning class are going above and beyond for their big community service project.

 “It is a really hands-on class. Since it is service learning, we do a great deal of community service. Every Thursday, we go to East Middle School and do projects with the kids there,” THS senior Kennedy Butcher said. “We do a lot of little tasks like that throughout the year.”

Students enrolled in the service learning class are required to complete a big community service project and tasked to plan, organize and execute the large project themselves.

Butcher, senior Kenzie Lenderman, senior Katherine Tyler, junior Katharine Hills and senior Sydney Nunez were given a list of ideas made up from past THS STEM students.

The group of girls instantly decided that their favorite project on the list was making birthday boxes for elementary school children in Tullahoma, according to Hills.

“We had ten ideas to choose from and when we chose the birthday box idea, we decided to build off of the idea and add more things to it,” Butcher said. “We put our own personal touch on it to expand on it. We believe we can make a bigger impact this way.”

The birthday box idea is a project where the students will create boxes to take to each elementary school in Tullahoma to have for kids who cannot afford a true celebration. They plan to place a box of cake mix, a tub of frosting, a hand-made card and a small gift in each box.

“Instead of asking for donations within the school, we decided to contact local businesses, such as the Ice Cream Distillery where I work, for donations,” Butcher said. “We are also asking them to donate small gifts like free ice cream scoop cards for the kids.”

Many businesses in town have agreed to let the students set up donation boxes at their storefronts. The students stay in contact with the businesses so they know when to stop by and pick up donations when the boxes get full.

The businesses that currently have donation boxes are Citizens Tri-County Bank, Gondola, Ice Cream Distillery, Traders Bank, Cross Fit and Brother’s Market.

EC Design and Print has given the students free flyers to pass out at school and around the community. They also provided the design for free.

 “The plan is to distribute the boxes to the elementary schools at the beginning of the 2020-2021 school year. Being the only junior in the group and knowing that the rest of the girls will be attending college in the fall, we are going to want to keep it going,” Hills said. “I know that I will find other students next year that will be willing to help me out, but the girls have agreed to come home on some weekends and help out with the project even after they graduate.”

“I am attending Motlow for the first two years of college so I will be around and plan to help Katharine out,” Nunez said. “It would be good to see the project keep going even after we all graduate.”

For donations, the students are in need of cake mix, icing, handmade birthday cards, coloring books, crayons or any kind of small gift that a child would enjoy.

“We have several meetings with each elementary school here and have stayed in constant contact,” Butcher said. “We are excited that they are on board with it.”

“We are hoping to gather enough supplies over the next four months to start putting together the boxes,” she added.

“We have a goal to try and get enough to assemble 100 boxes so every school can have 25, but we are looking at upping that number because we are very hopeful based on donations that we have already gotten,” Butcher said.

The group of students is also accepting monetary donations at Ice Cream.

“We have an envelope for any monetary donations people want to bring in to the store,” Butcher said. “All of the employees are aware of the project and the money will go towards buying the rest of the supplies we need to complete the boxes.”

“We also understand that some people would not want to give us money in fear that it will not go to our project, so they are more than welcome to donate anything off of our list of needs,” Butcher said.

Anyone interested in helping supply children with birthday boxes can stop by any of the listed businesses and drop off cake mix, frosting, small toys or hand-made cards to help the THS students make their community service project a large success.

Katelyn Lawson may be reached at


Recommended for you