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Evanston youth have shown their mettle in the past year, organizing peaceful protests and other events that called for change in institutions that have ignored signs of deeply entrenched racism. Three guest essays by Evanston teens – one of the essays unsolicited – have already appeared in the online paper, each a personal reflection on the unsettling circumstances caused by the pandemic.

High schoolers are not the only ones putting thoughts into words. The RoundTable is also publishing work by elementary- and middle-school students. Watch, in coming weeks, for other fresh voices of Evanston. Below is an essay on Community Service by an energetic middle-schooler. Up next: reviews written by Ms. Kipfers’ fifth-grade class at Kingsley Elementary School and offered to the RoundTable

Community Service    

By Olivia Ohlson

Hello Fellow Evanstonians!

Unlike the years before, this holiday season we were not able to gather in large groups and sing carols, travel to see our extended family or have our yearly holiday parties, but just like the years before this, and even more so, there was a need for people willing to do good.

This past summer I raised nearly $3,000 in cash and received approximately $5,000 through in-kind donations to run Hygiene Kits For Evanston’s Underserved, a project I started last June. As of two weeks ago I have donated just over 800 hygiene kits to six different local Evanston nonprofits and projects. These people just need a helping hand and an ounce of respect during this difficult time.

Besides Hygiene Kits For Evanston’s Underserved, I have also tutored D65 students, prepared breakfast for seniors and written them letters, and finally, chalked my way through Evanston with positive messages. My family has always encouraged community service and now I am sharing this drive to serve with you!

There are so many ways to help the people in our community by doing even small acts (and all of them are super fun, and most can be done with kids)!


Looking for a fun way to spend quality time with your child, spouse, friend or just for self-care? Well I have your solution! The projects will be in order by YAOP (Youngest Age of Participants). This first one is especially for the creatives we have in our community!

Writing Letters to Seniors (Age 3+)

Bust out your markers and crayons! This one can be as simple or as complicated as you make it. It can be as simple as a few scribbles from your 3-year-old or as complicated as a two-page letter. Buy your card or make your card. These lonely seniors want to hear anything you have to say.  Tell them your first name, your favorite holiday and why, and the first thing you would do when COVID-19 is over! Have fun with it. Get creative.

How and where to drop off your notes: Contact a local senior center (like the Levy center) or senior living facility. Choose one that is close to your house or make a trip of it and choose one farther away! They will all be happy to receive them!

Here are some ideas of senior housing facilities in Evanston: Three Crowns, Presbyterian Homes, Jacob Blake Manor, Ebenezer Primm Towers, The Grove, etc.

Do you have any elderly neighbors? Well, I am sure they would be happy to receive a holiday card! With COVID spreading, the older people in our community are more at risk and have even less human contact than we do, so seeing your lovely card will definitely bring some smiles!

The HoneyComb Project

The Honeycomb project is a wonderful organization that organizes a wide variety of service projects for individuals and families. During COVID-19 they have even generated at-home projects and other fun activities for young people and families. (Age 5+)

Just check out their website at www.thehoneycombproject.org. You will find many interesting at-home projects and dinner conversation-starters surrounding many interesting and important conversations! Then visit them, once COVID is dwindling, to sign-up for some amazing in-person projects that suit your family! 

Shovel a neighbor’s walkway, driveway or clear their car

When the snow starts to fall it’s nice to have a clear path to your car or out of your driveway, and providing this for any neighbor is sure to win you some gratitude, but for a sick or elderly one it means even more! So grip tight to those shovels and get working! (This is great for families and older kids, but with adult supervision, even some younger people can help!) (Age 7+)

Make a treat or a meal for a neighbor or a friend!

Whip out your favorite recipes or try some new ones! Make some goodies for your neighbors or drive over to your friend’s house with some warm snacks!  Check out Meals on Wheels or make some food for people in need. You don’t have to know a person well to care about them! 

To learn more about the work I have done to help our community this year check out, Hygiene Kits For Evanston’s Underserved either on Facebook or GoFundMe

Looking for Stringers

In applying for not-for-profit status, the Evanston RoundTable has reaffirmed the goals it set at its founding in 1998. As a local newspaper, one of its objectives has been to give voice to community leaders but also to those stakeholders who may not always speak up.

As an online source for local news, the RoundTable is seeking written contributions from readers of all faiths, colors, genders, political persuasions, and ages.

Because we value the thoughts and reflections of the City’s young people, the RoundTable is hoping to attract a diverse squad of student reporters and “stringers “ – writers and photographers whose work is vital to newspapers and magazines but who, rather than being on staff, are freelancers.

We hope teachers at other District 65 schools, as well as parents and students themselves, will respond with more student-generated written, photographed and painted or drawn pieces.

Please send these to editor@evanstonroundtable.com, along with name (first names only will be used), school, grade level and, where appropriate, teacher’s name.