Painting and packing holiday warmth:

Coastal Point • Laura Walter: Southern Delaware School of the Arts students were at times a flurry of hands as they packed six suitcases of supplies for a homeless shelter.Coastal Point • Laura Walter: Southern Delaware School of the Arts students were at times a flurry of hands as they packed six suitcases of supplies for a homeless shelter.Students at one Selbyville school got a glimpse of gratefulness this month when they sent donations to a Salisbury, Md., homeless shelter. Southern Delaware School of the Arts students painted and filled six suitcases with supplies for HALO, a faith-based ministry that serves those who are homeless or in need.

The Junior Honor Society eighth-graders learned to be more grateful as they packed suitcases on Dec. 14. They categorized each suitcase by items: toiletries, warm hats, blankets, gloves, socks, diapers, books and games.

“Some of these things are common needs, and I can’t imagine not having these things in my life,” said student Grace Morris. “So the fact that people need these things so much just really shows you how much you should be grateful for the things you have.”

SDSA counselor Frank Shockley did the collecting himself in December, as the students had already hosted two food and supply drives this fall. Shockley’s parents helped collect the boxes of donations. After Theresa Shockley helped deliver the supplies, she said she used to do a similar suitcase project for individual foster children.

But Shockley wanted students to see where the supplies go, so he stepped back and let students do the packing.

“I think it’s a bit of a reality-check for them, too,” Shockley said. “[They think,] ‘Oh, we’re giving them Listerine. That must mean they don’t have Listerine. We’re giving them toothbrushes. That must mean they don’t have toothbrushes.’”

The 12 students crowded around, debating how to best organize the boxes. (“All right, toothpaste in here.” “How do you close this?” “Just make it look nice,” they chattered.) The biggest challenge was fitting everything in the suitcases, said Alex Rakes.

HALO’s many ministries include a men’s homeless shelter, a women’s and children’s shelter, a thrift shop and a day-program café.

“Everyone that comes through our doors is in need, and we freely give out the [supplies],” said Megan Saulsbury, HALO day-facility administrator/social worker. “Imagine that was you coming in, and you didn’t have much of anything. You didn’t have a hat, you didn’t have a scarf.”

“Everything’s going to a good cause, and we’re happy that we’re giving people these things,” said student Megan Moriarty. “It just makes us all feel good.

“They were beautifully decorated and painted,” Saulsbury said. “I was impressed that [the students] had done the painting themselves.”

“That kinda adds an extra something,” said student Emma Kelly of the bright designs. “It’s really festive. And it’s just a nicer way to hold everything together.”

Doing the project really speaks to the character of the Junior Honor Society students, Saulsbury said.

“It was greatly appreciated, and we will put everything to good use for the guests that come through,” Saulsbury said.

HALO Ministry is headquartered at 701 Snow Hill Road, Salisbury, Md. For more information on giving or receiving help, contact them at (410) 742-9356 or