Lending a helping hand

FDSH students spearhead Winnie Foster Project to help those in foster care

-Submitted photo
Alexa McHone, left, and Abigail Casciato show their signs for last year’s community service project, which was held during the 2023 Fort Dodge Senior High musical. This year’s project will collect donations for the foster care system.

Alexa McHone wanted to start a tradition at Fort Dodge Senior High, one that will continue to grow.

This year’s project was inspired by a story she heard this past winter.

“A man was taking a walk on the beach and he saw a child throwing starfish into the ocean,” McHone said about a story she heard this winter. “The child said if I don’t throw them into the ocean they will die.

“The man said there are thousands of starfish and you are just a kid. You can’t make a difference. The kid picked up another starfish and threw it back into the ocean. I made a difference for that one.”

For the second straight year, McHone will be part of a group spearheading a project to help throughout the community.

-Submitted photo
Last year’s donations packed the van for the Lotus Community Project Shelter. This year’s project will collect donations for the foster care system.

Together, McHone, a junior, along with junior Cortney Hoover and freshman Lauren Patterson, are leading the Winnie Foster Project.

Last season, McHone was part of the service project that collected donations to support the Lotus Community Project shelter.

This year during FDSH’s three shows of “Tuck Everlasting,” students will be collecting donations for the foster care system.

“By using the platform that the musical provides, we are able to make a difference for the people in our own community and hopefully inspire others to do the same,” McHone said. “When I started organizing community service projects to go with the musical, my goal was to start a tradition that will continue to be carried on after I leave.

“I am very grateful to be able to work on this again this year, and I am excited to see what will happen with this year’s project.”

—Submitted photo
Holly McHone and Wendy Casciato stand at the donation table during last year’s musical “Les Miserable.” This year’s project will collect donations for the foster care system.

When Patterson was asked to help, she quickly jumped at the opportunity.

“When Lexie and Cortney asked me to help with the project, I knew I wanted to help,” Patterson said. “I thought it was a good way to help others who aren’t as lucky.

“We chose to collect donations for foster care since through the show, “Winnie” grieves the loss of her father.”

The project will accept any donations, but is also looking for specific needs.

“We’re looking to collect new blankets, new stuffed animals, small pillows, books, African-American skin and hair products, toothpaste, toothbrushes, hair brushes, and other personal hygiene products,” Patterson said. “It means a lot to give back to the community because I’ve been really fortunate and I want younger kids to grow up and be as fortunate and give back as well.”

Hoover also saw the need to help those out in need.

“I got involved with this project because I wanted to start getting involved with the community more because I think it’s a good way to connect with people and help out at the same time,” Hoover said. “I was in the musical last year and saw how well the community service project went for Lexie last year and knew that I wanted to help out this year.

“We brainstormed what community service project we were going to do this year and came up with the Winnie Foster project.”

Throughout the three shows from Thursday through Saturday (April 18 through April 20) at the Fort Dodge Middle School, students will accept donations as part of the Winnie Foster Project to help kids grieving the loss of family. Items can be dropped off in the high school choir room or in the Middle School lobby before the shows. The goal is to fill a van full of items.


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