F.I.R.E. Club “Snuggles Up” to Community Service with ADO Project Linus Initiative

March 6, 2023 10:04 am

F.I.R.E. Club “Snuggles Up” to Community Service with ADO Project Linus Initiative


Now in her second year as advisor for the F.I.R.E. (Female, Initiative, Respect and Empowerment) Club, Agora High School Special Education Teacher Amy Raught finds the club’s journey and growth inspiring. F.I.R.E.—which reaches students in 9th through 12th grades—is flourishing in terms of the number of students embracing its opportunities, the issues they address, the support they offer each other, and the ways it is making a growing impact on surrounding communities. Since its inception, the club has facilitated deep, encouraging conversations and education on timely, important issues to this female age group including the law and indigenous women, famous women inventors, females who have made an impact in students’ lives, their own educational and career aspirations, and much more. As F.I.R.E. prepared for the 2022-2023 school year, participants set their sights on making a bigger impact in their local PA communities.


With this as their focus, during the fall and winter, student F.I.R.E. moderators Alaina Wilson and Kierra Daniels, led discussions that would help students realize the many opportunities that exist for them to make a difference. These conversations happened with, for example, the McKean County YWCA domestic violence program leaders. They also covered what F.I.R.E. and the Agora community at large could do to help women in local shelters, women-owned small businesses, and more.


“It has been an honor getting to start this incredible club and our members really appreciate the dialogues we have,” said Amy. “From these initial experiences it was a natural leap to move into learning more about and helping others in our local communities.”

Getting wrapped up in Project Linus

For the new school year, Amy was joined by Agora Special Education Compliancy Coach, Kim Fiscus, who became a F.I.R.E. advisor this year. No stranger to helping women and families in need, Kim for years had been an active supporter of Project Linus and identified the organization as a perfect fit for the club’s community impact vision. Project Linus is a non-profit organization that collects new, handmade fleece, quilted, crocheted, and knitted blankets to distribute to families who have children aged 0-18 that are seriously ill, traumatized or otherwise in need. F.I.R.E. club participants were eager to extend their love to local families by hand crafting blankets and were confident if they could make a go of it, other members of their Agora family would also embrace the opportunity. The initial Project Linus effort of F.I.R.E. club members was so inspirational and successful, they knew that, indeed, it was ready to bring to an expanded Agora community.


F.I.R.E. achieved this by “weaving” Project Linus into a series of in-person and virtual Agora Days Out (ADO) in February. The blanket-making activities of students and parents blanketed communities throughout Pennsylvania, with opportunities orchestrated by Amy and Kim.


After sending participants details on what they’d need to craft their blankets, on February 22, the team led multiple in-person and virtual ADO sessions for students and families from throughout Pennsylvania.

More than 60 participants learned how to make the blankets during two virtual events and more than 20 were crafted at two in-person events in Imperial and Fox Chapel, PA. Through Project Linus, Findlay Township, and Kim, Agora’s blankets are in the process of being distributed to area homeless shelters, nursing homes, chemotherapy centers, senior living centers, hospitals and other locations serving children in need.


Amy, with the support of Family Coach, Kim Watson, oversaw the two virtual ADO sessions. Families and staff received blanket-making instructions ahead of time, and then spent their session making their creations while discussing other ways to help their local communities. Participants had the option to donate their blankets to a local shelter on their own or mail them to Amy for distribution.

Cozy Results that Will Forever Warm Hearts

The creation of the blankets—from the satisfaction of seeing their end product to the interaction participants had working together to give back to their neighbors in need—is an experience that will stay with all proud Agora Project Linus “Blanketeers”! The consensus of participants across all of these Project Linus ADO opportunities was that it was nice to do something for others and to give back. Moreover, it was not lost on anyone that Agora children eagerly and selflessly embraced the opportunity to use their talents to extend a loving gesture to other kids who were facing challenges.


“Our families and staff really enjoyed this project, and it is amazing to look at all of the different fleece blankets Agora helped to produce,” said Kim Fiscus. “Some are unicorns, there are pigs with glasses, and we even have tie dye with Agora colors. Once you participate in Project Linus, you have the information and knowledge and donate as many times as you want. I am proud of all that we were able to do for the cause and appreciate the lessons learned.”