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Sparrow Club: Meet Anna, our Sparrow for the 2018-2019 school year

Anna lives with a condition called Rett Syndrome — a rare, non-inherited genetic neurological disorder that primarily affects girls. Children with Rett Syndrome typically don’t show any signs of the disorder until they’re toddlers, around the age of two.

That’s about the time that Anna’s symptoms started to show. This condition affects nearly every aspect of her life — including her ability to speak, walk, eat and even breathe easily. A frustrating aspect with Rett’s Syndrome is that kids who suffer with this condition are able to understand far more than they can communicate to others.

When she was younger, Anna also suffered seizures. Doctors placed her on medication that seems to be keeping the seizures at bay for now. However, she is closely monitored by a neurologist for any seizure activity.

By the time Anna was six, she began having difficulties eating, so she had to undergo a G-tube installation surgery. This feeding device makes sure that her body receives the fluids and calories she needs to grow.

Rett Syndrome is a condition with no cure. Anna’s family is focused on managing her symptoms and giving her the best possible life. Today, she is a very intelligent and friendly little girl. She has bright, beautiful eyes that are ready and willing to connect with her classmates.

Learning the lessons of compassion and selflessness

Through the Sparrow Clubs program, a school adopts a medically fragile child — the “sparrow” — to help. As the sponsor, Rogue Disposal & Recycling provides financial support, which students at the school “earn” by performing community service hours — like raking a neighbor’s yard, picking up trash on the playground, helping in the classroom or holding a bake sale. In order for their hours to count, students must complete a service voucher and explain how helping their Sparrow impacted them. As a result, kids learn to focus on the needs of others — not only their Sparrow family, but also members of their community.

Kids helping kids — doing good in the community

When all the numbers were tallied at the end of the school year, the students at Jacksonville Elementary clocked in a whopping 540.5 hours of volunteer time, all on behalf of their adopted Sparrow Anna. Here are some of this year’s service hours tallies:

  • First Grade Buddies - 32 hours
  • Gospel Mission - 36 hours
  • Helping Primary Maps Classroom at Recess - 24 hours
  • Kindergarten Help - 155 hours
  • Raking and Baling Hay - 31 hours
  • Peer Mentor/Buddy - 18 hours
  • Singing at Assisted Living - 56 hours
  • Raking Leaves - 9 hours

What helping Anna has meant to me...

In order for their hours to count, students had to complete a service voucher and explain how helping their Sparrow impacted them. Here’s a look at what was written on some of those vouchers — all of which are given as a gift to the Sparrow Family.

“It’s made my heart sparkle and feel warm inside. I really enjoy helping others, especially Anna.” K, grade 3
“She warms my heart like the sunset does. I would reach for the stars to help Anna. She is loving, kind and helpful. That is why I stand by Anna.” E, grade 3

A big thank you to all the kids, teachers and staff at Jacksonville Elementary School. And a shout out to two students in particular, Birkley Maddox and Lily Williams who volunteered a total of 150 hours of community service between them.

To learn more, visit the Sparrow Club website.

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