Through dedication, a handful of Travis Elementary gifted-and-talented program students pooled their minds, muscles and skills to collect warm clothes for the area’s needy and, on Wednesday, handed over 28 large trash bags of clothes to New Haven Helping Hands.

Inspired after reading “Kid Reporters at Work” and subsequent books that addressed kids who started their own businesses, community projects and educational video projects, Page Pierson, Michael Downing, David Columbus, Madison Merritt, Pyper Spoon, Breanna Seaton and Preston Tabor started brainstorming in November on a GT project.

They decided to collect warm clothes for needy citizens and worked with teacher Mary Fields for project approval and guidance.

They interviewed New Haven Ministries Executive Director Jim Rhodes after they heard about the non-profit organization and found out what they needed most. Once they publicized their effort, through a video and Index interview, in came the clothes and blankets. They checked to see if the clothes were clean – even sniff tested each – sorted, folded and categorized by type and size.

“They took total responsibility for emptying the boxes each day and sorting them out,” noted Rhodes. “The kids have done a marvelous job organizing it.”

His grade – “I give them a five-star A-plus.”

“I’ve never seen so much joy. Those kids were so excited,” said Fields.

But their work isn’t over, she added. They will be partly graded on the hands-on portion of the project, but now, they must put their thoughts down on paper for the second part of their GT grade.

Fields said they are assigned to tell what they individually contributed to each of the steps in their project contract. They also must tell what they learned about organizing a project, about motivating others to contribute and what it means to be part of a community.

Additionally, they must write what they learned about themselves through the project and tell if and how it has changed their character.

“We’ve talked about character change in literature,” said Fields, adding that she wants to see if they have become aware of it in themselves.

“These will be our future leaders – the ones who really care. It’s by desire,” noted Rhodes.

He said the clothes will be available through New Haven Helping Hands, located at 115 S.W. 3rd St. in Mineral Wells. For information on making a donation or getting warm clothes, blankets or food, call (940) 325-5654.

New Haven serves 85.5 percent of Palo Pinto County’s population, said Rhodes. He added that an average of 1,200 people come through per month.

The non-profit organization also provided unprepared food to county citizens in Mineral Wells and through a mobil food bank. Rhodes said two mobil food banks will be busy handing out food Saturday to citizens in Gordon, Mingus and Strawn and another for citizens in Graford and Possum Kingdom.

Staff writer Libby Cluett can be reached at (940) 325-4465, ext. 3422, or


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