With their children growing up together on the same street, Wheeling Middle School Booster Club officers Pam McNeil and Kelly Schiffer have become close friends and have shared a passion for volunteering at their children's schools.
McNeil and Schiffer have been volunteering for Ohio County Schools since their children started elementary school. They said making time between work and family to volunteer for the booster club has been an extremely rewarding experience.
"We've stayed the long haul," McNeil said. "We work full time, we're involved in other things, too, but it's rewarding and you feel good about what you're doing and you have a special bond with your kids from being at their school."
Photo by Sarah Harmon
Parent volunteer Pam McNeil, left, organizes long-sleeve shirts to be wrapped by the Wheeling Middle School Booster Club as a holiday gift for all the school’s students. Pictured in the background is McNeil’s daughter, Haley McNeil, a student at Wheeling Park High School.
Wheeling Middle School Booster Club is a parent-teacher organization dedicated to supporting the school both financially and through volunteer activities such as raising funds for new uniforms, buying school supplies, giving an annual holiday gift to all the students, providing food and transportation for field trips and organizing student events.
"The school's limited in what they can fundraise and what kind of money they have, so we kind of take over for them since we don't have those rules," Schiffer said. "It gives parents a way to volunteer safely and something to legitimately do to give back."
One program the Booster Club supports is an orientation event for incoming sixth-graders and their parents before school begins in the fall.
Schiffer said it gives parents and students a chance to take tours of the building, meet the principal and the teachers and learn about what clubs and sports are available.
"It's one of the nicest things we do. I think as a sixth-grader coming in, it's a big adjustment coming from elementary school," Schiffer said. "We mingle with the parents and introduce them to boosters and try to get parents involved."
Booster Club doesn't just support official events - members also are there for the entire school community, often helping out individual families who are in need of assistance. Schiffer cited families who have received help from the Booster Club after suffering through a house fire or simply going through financial hardship during the holidays.
"We're a support system for teachers, the kids, for other parents. Sometimes the school knows of a family or two that really needs help and they'll let us know. It doesn't even come out of the booster money, it just comes from whoever wants to give a gift," Schiffer.
For the past three years, Wheeling Middle Boosters Club has celebrated the holidays by giving a warm piece of clothing with the school's name on it to every child in the school, a project that helps keep the students warm during the winter and gives them the joy of receiving a gift for the holidays.