KMHS Raises Over $45k for Shop With a Mustang


Valerie Wolfe

Mane Link officers receive Landmark’s Atl Safe Driver Check. L-R David Wright, Hannah Goodsite, Andy Stevens, Aleis Clark, Aaliya Meadows, Archelle Thelemaque, Haley Biggins, and Anna Jung

Kennesaw Mountain High School’s annual Shop with a Mustang community service project will take place on Saturday, December 12 at the Avenues in west Marietta. For weeks, students have been asking teachers to vouch for them on the sign up forms so that they could participate. The activity draws hundreds of Mustangs who are always ready to give back to the Kennesaw community.

Assistant Principal Billy Richardson said, “What really matters is our kids giving back to the community, things that they have learned from our teachers and our business community. It shows what Christmas is all about which is giving back and helping others.”

The project started in 2004 at KMHS. Since then, Mustangs have started the program at University of Georgia, “Shop with a Dawg.” Other Cobb County Schools like Pope High School have also started a program modeled after Kennesaw Mountain’s original idea, which now takes place in 32 schools and three universities. Feeder elementary schools to Kennesaw Mountain select students whose families might be in need of necessities or gifts for Christmas. Each child has a certain amount to spend- this year it is $90- and three KMHS mentors will take the kids from store to store finding coats, hats, backpacks, shoes and small gifts for the kids or for their family members

Vice president of academics for the school’s student council, Mane Link, senior Andy Stevens said, “Shop with a Mustang is an important program to me because to be able to make a difference in a child’s life who would otherwise not be able to have a nice Christmas makes me happy.”

The Avenues of west Marietta stores generously take deep discounts off their merchandise so the children’s gift cards can go a long ways. Other local business organizations like Acworth Business Association and Kennesaw Business Association made impressive donations to help purchase the gift cards and other program materials. Clubs at Kennesaw Mountain also contribute to the cause. This year, NHS, the Beta Club and the Cheerleaders each donated $500 to the cause. All the organizations’ names appear on the tee shirt as a thank you. The school and its supporters ultimately raised $45,000 for the cause.

Additionally, Kennesaw collected money during lunches and held a telethon to raise more than $4000 from the Kennesaw Mountain student body. Coaches Blair, Hare, and Whittemore hosted the telethon and read the daily announcements. A couple of feature items were auctioned off this year. Rookie Tyler Stephenson, a player for the St. Louis Cardinals MLB franchise and a KMHS alumni (class of 2015), signed a baseball and a trading card. The final bids for the items went for over $100 and were won by Principal Mark Trachtenbroit and counselor, Angela LaRoy.

A special opportunity happened to coincide with KMHS raising money for Shop with a Mustang. The Landmark Atlanta Safe Driving Campaign awarded $10,000 to the metro Atlanta high school whose students and community members could make the most safe driving pledges. For over a week, Kennesaw Mountain was neck and neck with the Atlanta Jewish School. Kennesaw Mountain won the big prize but the Atlanta Jewish School took their second place check of $1000 and donated it to the Shop With a Mustang cause.

English teacher and Mane Link sponsor, Valerie Wolfe, said in an email to the staff:

“Today, Mane Link went to Landmark Dodge to accept the 1st place prize of $10,000 for the Atlanta Safe Driver Pledge. Without all of your support, we would not have been able to earn this very generous prize. Thank you all for logging on every hour and pledging. This pledge has been a blessing in more ways than one. By pledging, the students have become more aware of the dangers of driving while distracted by social media, text messages, and phone calls. As an added blessing during this holiday season, the Atlanta Jewish Academy heard about our Shop with a Mustang program, and they decided to donate the $1,000 they won to our cause as well. This selfless act from the Atlanta Jewish Academy is the true meaning of this holiday season…”

Students must contribute to participate and they receive a colorful and artistically designed long sleeve tee shirt. Yesterday, faculty members modeled past tee shirts in green, light blue, red and other festive colors. This year’s shirt is navy.

When asked why she participated in Shop with a Mustang, sophomore Juana Martinez said she liked to “see kids with smiles when they get their presents. Other kids don’t have the opportunity to get presents like they do.”

This is one of Kennesaw Mountains most popular and well-received community service events. The hundreds of children who receive a day with high school students, a gift card, assistance with purchases, personalized wrapping and meals are incomparable.

One  KMHS freshman recalled her experience as a Shop with a Mustang student as a 6th grader, she said that she wouldn’t have had Christmas presents that year and that she was eternally grateful that such a positive and cohesive effort could help her family in their time of need. Today, she participates and donated money on telethon day.