Junior Leaders work together to benefit local nonprofits

Published 4:30 pm Tuesday, April 12, 2022

Lafayette County and Oxford High School students are giving back to their community through the Junior Leadership Lafayette program.

Junior Leadership Lafayette has taken 32 tenth-grade students from both school districts and taught them on community service, leadership, team building and multiple aspects of the community they live in.

In the first part of the program, the junior leaders met with Mayor Robyn Tannehill, firefighters of the Oxford Fire Department and officers with the Oxford Police Department allowing them to gain insight into the ins and outs of their community.

Lafayette County High School student Claire Anne Pugh joined JLL after hearing upperclassmen talk about the program positively.

“It sounded like something I wanted to take part in and be a part of,” said Pugh. “I really enjoy it. I think it’s really good for anyone to take part because it takes you through different aspects of our community and you learn about the things that go on.”

Each session taught the junior leaders how to be the best community members they could possibly be and opened their eyes to different opportunities. 

“It’s allowed us to see, on a deeper level, the great things about Oxford and why we should stay longer after graduation,” said Henry Haley, Oxford High School student.

The experience for Pugh was eye-opening. It exposed her to the truth of leadership and the benefits of teamwork in her community.

“It’s not just one person running everything,” she said. “It’s a group of people that have to come together. This program has really taught me that being a leader does not mean one person doing everything. It’s a group effort.”

After completing nine group sessions, the junior leaders began working together on a community service project in partnership with three local non-profits chosen by the JLL board committee: Doors of Hope, LovePacks and Mississippi Blood Services.

Members held drives at Kroger and Larson’s CashSaver over the past, two weekends for necessities requested by each organization. Doors of Hope requested household supplies and body care supplies like laundry and dish detergent, baby diapers and wipes, shampoo, body wash and more. These products will go towards helping the homeless and at-risk.

LovePacks, an organization with the goal to eliminate child hunger, requested food such as peanut butter crackers, jarred peanut butter, granola bars and ramen.

“It’s another way to give back which is always great,” Haley said. “It was very enjoyable, especially being able to know that we’re doing some good. Along with that, just being able to see all the boxes from the people of Oxford and seeing the good side of humanity.”

The Junior Leaders will complete their service with Mississippi Blood Services at the Oxford-Lafayette County Chamber of Commerce on Thursday, Apr. 14 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Each student was required to secure at least three blood donors. 

Blood donors will receive a $10 gift card. MBS highly suggests donors to eat at least four hours within giving blood and drink plenty of fluids prior to and after donating blood.