The rivalry between Brownstown Central and Seymour always brings out the best efforts from both schools when it comes to athletics.

But that rivalry is not just

in sports.

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For the second straight year, the high schools are competing in a blanket drive to see who collects the most new blankets.

Once the drives end, the blankets will be given to the Jackson County Sertoma Club to put in boxes of toys given to less-fortunate children on Christmas Eve through the Christmas Miracle project.

Celeste Bowman, Jobs for America’s Graduates specialist at Seymour High School, and Robin Perry, DECA Club adviser at Brownstown Central High School, both said they hope the rivalry behind the drive is a motivator to students.

“I call every Friday and ask what number they’ve got, and then I poll the teachers here and add up our numbers,” Perry said. “Then I put the tally down there by the lunchroom where everybody puts their trays up, so everybody can watch, ‘We’re ahead’ or ‘Oh, we’re behind.’”

This year, the newly formed Reading Club at Seymour High School, led by library media specialist Jill Railsback, is involved in the drive.

“You always want to beat your rival,” Railsback said. “We hope that people would want to donate because they want to help keep people warm in our community. But if they need another motive as well, there’s that rivalry.”

Seymour started its drive in September and has more than 20 blankets. Brownstown, however, is just getting started with its drive.

Last year, Brownstown rounded up 428 blankets in three weeks. Seymour, which started collecting in September, wound up with 30.

At Seymour, library assistant Malia Rose came up with the “Cozy Up and Read” theme for this year’s drive. That ties into the Reading Club’s purpose of promoting reading.

‘They want to help’

There is a display of the blankets outside the library, and the drive is promoted through posters and fliers placed throughout

the school.

“We’ve been wanting to start a Reading Club; and then when this opportunity came up, we saw a way that we could put together a Reading Club and have them do some community service, also,” Railsback said.

“We have a lot of kids who know how important it is to help one another, to take care of our own in our community,” she said. “They want to help. They are very helpful. They need a way that they can show that desire to help each other

and give back to the community.”

Community service is a part of JAG, too. There are opportunities of job shadowing, workplace tours, classroom speakers and other activities, all aimed at keeping students at risk of dropping out involved and interested in school, work and the community.

“A large part of the JAG curriculum is community service and giving back to the community,” Bowman said. “There is a requirement with JAG that students have to have 12 hours of community service for the year. When they are working on the blanket drive, that’s community service time.”

From that service, students learn how to be leaders, Bowman said.

“There’s a lot of leadership skills that employers are looking for that they can learn through doing the community service,” she said. “I hope they learn the value in giving back to their community and helping out individuals that need help, whatever that looks like.”

Students also are learning about collaborating, Railsback said, whether it’s between the two Seymour clubs or the two schools.

“The collaborating component in the workplace today, regardless of your area, is so important,” she said.

‘It’s fun’

While they only have around 20 blankets now, the Seymour clubs hope to top last year’s total. To help accomplish that goal, they are opening up the drive to the community.

Through Dec. 12, blankets can be sent to school with students or dropped off in the school office.

Other opportunities to donate are at the girls basketball game against Brownstown on Dec. 4 and the boys basketball game against Franklin on Dec. 6. Those who donate at the games will receive a voucher for a free box of popcorn and a drink.

“Hopefully, that will help with donations,” Bowman said.

At Brownstown, this is DECA’s fourth year of conducting a blanket drive. Every year, the club has collected at least

100 blankets.

DECA is a marketing association for students interested in pursuing careers involving business and public speaking. Community service is a part of the club, too.

“The students definitely have the focus,” Perry said of the drive’s yearly success. “They enjoy something like this, to take part in a community activity. It’s fun. Brownstown has that community involvement mindset that is filtered down even to our kids.”

The drive for Brownstown, though, is not just a competition with Seymour. It’s also a contest within the school.

The third-period classes create strategies to collect blankets. Some hide their blankets so the other classes don’t know what they’ve collected, while others get creative with displaying their collection.

The teachers tie it in with their curriculum, Perry said.

‘We’re a good school’

The class that collects the most blankets is treated to pizza, while the class with the most creative display — selected by Sertoma members —

will get doughnuts.

“Some kids have done side jobs to raise money to pool with their third-period class,” she said. “It’s something that the kids can do for the Christmas season. A lot of kids don’t have a lot of money, but it doesn’t take a lot of money to buy a blanket, and they are participating.”

Brownstown also gets the community involved. Blankets can be dropped off at the school through Dec. 19, and DECA members are working with area churches to set up collection boxes. Blankets also can be taken to the boys basketball game Dec. 5 at home against Seymour.

Students at both schools said they are glad to be involved with the project.

This is DECA President Morgan Thompson’s second year of helping

with the drive.

“I think it’s nice because everyone is more generous during the holiday season,” the Brownstown senior said. “Plus, everyone is struggling anyway because our economy is going down, so I think it’s really nice everyone is taking the time and the effort and using their own money to purchase blankets and help others out.”

Seymour junior Brandi Blake said it’s nice to provide blankets to kids so they can stay warm in

the winter.

J.G. Goldhand, also a Seymour junior, agreed.

“It shows the community that we’re a good school, that we care,” he said.

Goldhand said the rivalry aspect makes it fun, too.

“I think it’s good to show people that we’re not just a rivalry,” he said. “It shows that we can work together.”

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To contribute to Brownstown Central High School’s blanket drive, blankets can be dropped off at the school office. The DECA Club also is working with local churches to set up collection boxes. Another opportunity for the public to donate is the Dec. 5 boys basketball game at home against Seymour.

To contribute to Seymour High School’s blanket drive, blankets can be sent to school with students or dropped off at the school office. Also, there will be collection boxes at the girls basketball game Dec. 4 against Brownstown and the boys basketball game Dec. 6 against Franklin. Both games will be at the high school’s Lloyd E. Scott Gymnasium. Those who donate at the games will receive a voucher for a free box of popcorn and a drink.

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“You always want to beat your rival. We hope that people would want to donate because they want to help keep people warm in our community. But if they need another motive, as well, there’s that rivalry.”

Jill Railsback, Seymour High School media specialist, on the annual blanket drive competition


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