The Leadership classes’ Afghan blanket drive 

During January, the Bellarmine Leadership classes started a project to support the local Afghan refugees that had been displaced due to the war occuring in Afghanistan. The Bellarmine community brought in nearly 150 blankets and sheet sets to assist those displaced by the war.

In addition to the collected blankets, Leadership classes also raised over $1,200 for the Afghan refugees thanks to the support of the Bellarmine community. 

Jim Dempsey, teacher of the Leadership classes and organizer of the drives, shares what inspired the classes to do this project, “Right after Thanksgiving, our classes were fortunate enough to have Col. (Ret.) Greg Allen, B’84, and his colleague, Maj. (Ret.) Aron Horiel, came to speak with our class about their experiences with leadership. As a part of their discussion, they spoke with our leadership classes about their current support of Afghan refugees who have been displaced from their homeland due to the on-going conflict in the region. When I asked each of the two classes if they wanted to try to come up with a project to support our local Afghan Refugee population as a way to practice leadership-in-action, they said “YES!”

With helping others comes valuable life lessons. When asked how he feels the drive has impacted the classes, Dempsey replied, “I believe that both classes learned that they can absolutely influence the world around them in very positive ways.  While they may have been a little apprehensive at first, they felt the self-confidence that is gained by setting challenging goals and then working hard to achieve those goals.” 

Dempsey shares that he believes this drive helped the Bellarmine community reconnect after the challenging COVID years. In addition, he said, “ We all know that the very best of Bellarmine occurs when we work together to clearly live out our mission to help others.  I believe that these projects were opportunities for our students, staff, faculty, administrators and parents to come together as a community to make our mission manifest.”

Although this drive was a new experience for the Leadership classes, its impact will be lasting. With the question of will this drive happen again, Dempsey said, “Our Leadership classes will continue to create projects that help support our Bellarmine community, and our broader community-at-large.  I’m not sure if these projects will be focused on collecting blankets, or other forms of support, but we will certainly be doing what we can to help out.  The goal is for our students to understand that they have much greater power than they may initially believe to influence our world in positive ways – and that we can learn a lot about leadership through these opportunities!”

The dedication and kindness demonstrated by the Leadership class won’t be forgotten, and hopefully will be carried on by students and faculty/staff in the years to come.

On Friday, Jan. 28, Bellarmine’s semester break, senior Ryan Hundven loads up the donated blankets in Leadership teacher Jim Dempsey’s truck
Photo courtesy of Jim Dempsey
(Jeanne Hanigan)