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Local HALO branch exemplifies Characterplus trait

“It’s not enough to have compassion; you must put it to work.”

Lacy Voight speaks with Jefferson City High School students Patricia Andrews and Kory Michael, both seniors, about the HALO Program. Voight is a 2002 graduate of JCHS and program director at HALO, which stands for Helping Art Liberate Orphans. Founded by JCHS alumna Rebecca Neuenswander, it sponsors orphanages in Uganda, Kenya, Mexico and other countries. E-mail to halojc@haloworldwide.org for more information.

Lacy Voight speaks with Jefferson City High School students Patricia Andrews and Kory Michael, both seniors, about the HALO Program. Voight is a 2002 graduate of JCHS and program director at HALO, which stands for Helping Art Liberate Orphans. Founded by JCHS alumna Rebecca Neuenswander, it sponsors orphanages in Uganda, Kenya, Mexico and other countries. E-mail to halojc@haloworldwide.org for more information. Photo by Julie Smith.

Lacy Voight, program director for the HALO (Helping Art Liberate Orphans) Foundation, encouraged the Jefferson City High School senior class this week to do more than feel the emotion of compassion, but to act on it.

“Compassion changed my life,” Voight said. “It’s not enough to have compassion; you must put it to work.”

Through the school’s advisory periods, students have been asked to raise $1,500 for the Mengo Home in Kampala, Uganda, supported by the foundation created six years ago by Rebecca (Neuenswander) Welsh, a JCHS graduate.

Compassion: “Having a heart for those in need and for people in general. The Golden Rule — If I was in those circumstances, how would I want to be helped?”

That’s Jefferson City High School senior Tyler Luebbert’s take on the December trait for Cole County’s Characterplus.

But Lacy Voight, program director for the HALO (Helping Art Liberate Orphans) Foundation, encouraged the senior class this week to do more than feel the emotion, but to act on it.

“Compassion changed my life,” Voight said. “It’s not enough to have compassion; you must put it to work.”

Through the school’s advisory periods, students have been asked to raise $1,500 for the Mengo Home in Kampala, Uganda, supported by the foundation created six years ago by Rebecca (Neuenswander) Welsh, a JCHS graduate.

Twenty young girls, who previously were living on the streets in the African country’s capital, have their basic needs met and receive educational opportunities, including art therapy, at the Mengo Home.

This year the Jefferson City Branch of HALO agreed to cover the entire operating costs for the home. The collections at JCHS, as well as Lewis and Clark Middle School and Cedar Hill Elementary School, will help toward the estimated $20,000 annual budget.

“If they had done this when I was in high school here, I would’ve been excited,” Voight said. “It’s cool to come back and share what we’ve done with the kids here.”

The compassion-led effort is as much about raising awareness as it is funds, said Voight, a 2002 JCHS graduate.

“It’s good for kids this age to focus on more of the big picture than what’s right in front of them,” Voight said.

Luebbert, who represents his class on the Character Council, had the opportunity to see the “big picture” in person when he served as a summer missionary to South Africa.

“It’s a privilege for us as Americans to have the things that we do,” Luebbert said. “I think it’s not a lack of caring but a lack of knowing what (people in poverty) go through in daily life.”

Although the cultures may be different between South Africa and Uganda, Luebbert said “I’ve developed a heart for the African people.”

So through the Character Council Luebbert will be motivating his classmates during advisory times to give to the HALO project — just 75 cents from each student will make the school goal.

“There’s no reinforcement for this except helping someone because they need the help,” Luebbert said. “It’s a lot deeper than winning a pizza party.”

About HALO

HALO Jefferson City was formed to raise awareness, involvement, and funding to fully support the Mengo Home in Kampala, Uganda. This home provides food, water, shelter, clothing, education, art therapy, and mentors for 20 girls who once lived on the streets.

HALO (Helping Art Liberate Orphans) was created by Jefferson City High School alumna Rebecca (Neuenswander) Welsh in 2004 and became a 501(c)(3) organization in 2005.

Currently, HALO works in six countries: Mexico, Nicaragua, India, Kenya, Uganda, and residential homes in the United States. HALO recently opened learning centers for at-risk, homeless and foster care youth in Kansas City and Denver, Colo.

Co-directors of the HALO Jefferson City branch are Joyce Neuenswander and Laura Morris.

E-mail to halojc@haloworldwide.org for more information.

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