Volunteers needed for Project Charlie

Monday, August 5, 2002

A new school year will begin soon, and Project Charlie, a drug-resistance and self-esteem program for elementary school children, needs more volunteers to take the Project Charlie message into area classrooms.

A training session for those interested in becoming Project Charlie volunteers will be from 6 to 10 p.m. Aug. 29 at the LaCroix Methodist Church in Cape Girardeau.

Margie Stull, who coordinates Project Charlie for the Cape Excelsior Noon Optimists' Club, said Project Charlie needs enough volunteers to donate 30 minutes each week to each one of the 16 classrooms in which the program will be incorporated this year. She noted that the project will be in fourth-grade classrooms the first semester of the school year and in second-grade classrooms the second semester.

Project Charlie will be in six area elementary schools this year: Blanchard, Jefferson, Franklin, Clippard, Schrader and Nell Holcomb.

Stull said that Project Charlie has enjoyed great support from the community.

"There are a lot of businesses in the Cape Girardeau area that encourage their employees to get involved in community service. Project Charlie is an excellent organization to become involved with, because it can do so much good, yet requires relatively little time from its volunteers," said Stull.

In addition, many of the Project Charlie volunteers are parents who have children in the schools being served by the program.

Janna Jateff, who has served as a Project Charlie volunteer in classrooms, says the benefits to both the children and the volunteer are immeasurable.

"The kids love Project Charlie," she said. "They are so happy to see the volunteers every week. I know it made me feel very good just to know the kids were that happy to see me."

An eye-opener

Plus, she said, being with kids and talking to them about drugs and making good choices is always an eye-opener.

"Even in the second grade, when you ask how many of them have had friends or family who have used drugs, it is amazing the number of hands that go up," Jateff said. "And of course a lot of the kids know adults who smoke."

She said the Project Charlie message is so important at this age because it is a chance to educate children about alcohol, drugs, and tobacco before they get to the years where they are so heavily influenced by peers.

"It is our hope that if we teach these kids as a group about good decision-making, they will stand by each other and support each other for making good decisions when they get to be older. Hopefully, they will not only make good decisions themselves, but they'll stick by their friends who are making good decisions," said Jateff.

Anyone wanting to become involved in the program can call Jateff at 651-4103.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: