Hearts of GOLD

Published 9:55 pm Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The “Goal Oriented Ladies of Distinction” (GOLD) of King’s Fork Middle School are doing their darnedest to bring Christmas to those in need this holiday season.

On Monday, the residents of Autumn Care were presented with over 40 wreaths the girls decorated. And Wednesday, the girls assembled 104 Christmas stockings filled with shampoo, coffee, and other daily needs. The stockings will go to Afghanistan where U.S. Marine Corporal Robert P. Cahill, originally of Suffolk and son of King’s Fork Middle School teacher Sharon Cahill, is stationed.

JoVonni Bellot, a sixth-grader who is in GOLD, said the stockings were her favorite project “because reaching out is nice. We’re thanking them for helping keep our country safe.”

GOLD began at King’s Fork Middle School in September due to the efforts of Julia Arline, a sixth grade teacher. Hunt-Mapp Middle School in Portsmouth, where Arline taught for more than 20 years, runs a similar program.

“I thought it was a great idea and did not want that idea to fall by the wayside just because I wasn’t working with the Portsmouth girls,” Arline said.

The goal of the program is to teach the girls, “we’re not here for ourselves. We’re here for the community,” said Sarah Catlett, a guidance counselor at Kings Fork. “There’s too much focus on the ‘me-me-me’ in the adolescent community. [Arline] is helping them see how they can be an active member of the community.”

“She shows us how to be young ladies and about respect,” said Shanayie Harris, a sixth-grade GOLD.

“It’s not, like, all about yourself. It’s better to help others. […] It felt really good just to help other people,” said Randi Fiel, a seventh-grade GOLD.

Since September, the girls have completed several projects to give to others — such as the wreaths and stockings. For Veteran’s Day, they gave Applebee’s Restaurant ribbons and gift bags to be given to veterans. And in February, they will be hosting

“Daddy and Daughter’s Night Out” — a gala event for which one girl has already called her father in South Carolina to tell him to save the date, Arline said.

While increasing their activities in the community, Arline said her vision is to have “all the middle schools in the area with a mentoring group” and to begin a conference series with local businesses that will come speak to the girls about different job opportunities in the area and how they can become strong young ladies.

Contact Julia Arline at the King’s Fork Middle School for more information on GOLD.