‘The Coat Lady’ brings warmth to those in need

Activities at Homewood-Flossmoor High School haven’t stopped – they’ve just gone virtual. Registration ends this week for the annual Operation Snowball event, a program H-F has run for nearly 40 years.

Operation Snowball is an international alcohol, tobacco and other drug-use prevention program that focuses on leadership development to help empower students to lead drug-free lives.

COVID-19 safety precautions mean the traditional three-night/four-day event at Camp Manitoqua can’t happen, but organizers are hoping students will still be open to the idea of coming together Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 20, 21 and 22, to discuss concerns and feelings, learn from each other and meet new friends.

Emma Murphy, a senior at H-F who is the overall teen director, is working with the directors team that includes Lily Bosch and Leah Noble on programming; Ella Ermshler and Sam Ayodiran on activities; Jack Prokop and Jack Calomino on finance; Anna Keigher on publicity.

Teen small group leaders are: Brea Gaston, Ellery Homrich, Ella Bolling, Eliana D’Astici, Ellie Wojcikowski, Carter Langston, Ben Turnquest, Taylor Leslie and Amelia Schlismann with alternates Raigan Lydon, Isabella Ivancevic and Carter Maclin.  Teacher sponsors are Lorrie Maul and Paul Fasse.

Emma said the theme this year plays off of Jessie J’s song “Masterpiece.” It details how each person is working on developing themselves, but there’s much still to learn and do. Operation Snowball 2020 T-shirts will show a puzzle piece waiting to complete a picture.

There will be four main sessions. Students will break into small groups after each session to continue the discussion.

Emma said Snowball leaders will emphasize to participants “we are here for you. If you want to talk about something we’re here for you. We emphasize that at a normal Snowball, too. The connection is the biggest part of the weekend. We have to make it clear now: it’s not the same (event) but we can make that relationship the same.”

Many students are already familiar with Operation Snowball, having been introduced to the program in junior high. Emma said she started in Snow Flurry in fifth grade.

Teacher sponsor Paul Fasse said for him Operation Snowball is about leading “healthy, happier lives and being part of a community of caring,” with small group leaders conveying that message in their breakout groups.

He said the H-F Parent Organization and the H-F administration have been supportive of Operation Snowball for years, and this year is no exception.

Registration for Operation Snowball 2020 closes Friday, Oct. 25. The fee this year is $50. Registration is open to all H-F students and can be made using a form available online.

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