Together, We’re Changing Lives

Step into the heart of our community and witness the inspiring transformations that CAST volunteers have set into motion. Each story unravels the incredible impact of love, kindness, and collective efforts on the lives around us. It’s through these heartwarming narratives that the essence of CAST – Caring and Serving Together – truly shines. We warmly invite you to explore these stories, experience our passion for service, and see the profound difference your involvement can make. As we continue to change lives, we are reminded that together, we are stronger.

A Heartwarming Recognition

The #CASTkids Philanthropy Journey

#CASTkids were honored with the “Youth in Philanthropy Award” at the annual event of the Association of Fundraising Professionals Northeast Ohio Chapter (AFPNEO). Nominated by prominent community figures and standing among esteemed corporate and foundation leaders, the students were thrilled to see their local serving efforts recognized. The ceremony was a unique experience for the twenty-four student CAST leaders, who attended in high spirits, dressed in their finest attire, eager to represent Early College High School and CAST to the best of their abilities. A standout moment was when one of our students, Ms. Nyah Smith (who was just recently elected as Miami University’s Student Body President), gracefully accepted the award and moved the audience to a standing ovation with her heartfelt words.

Beyond the award and the accolades, what truly defined the essence of the #CASTkids was their backstory. With the holiday season approaching, the students had envisioned ways of bringing happiness to the less fortunate. Their discussions revolved around ideas like adopting a needy family from the Refuge, gifting something special to children they’d helped build homes for with Habitat, or spreading joy among lonely children at Akron Children’s Hospital. They dreamed of blessing others, even when they didn’t have the funds.

In an awe-inspiring turn of events, their selfless aspirations were answered. The rapid materialization of their “what if” conversations was a testament to their belief that God always makes a way. The joy that radiated from their subsequent meetings was infectious, as they excitedly plotted how to channel their newfound resources into touching more lives. The #CASTkids’ story is a testament to the power of faith, love, and selfless giving.

The Power of Togetherness

A CAST BLAST Experience

CAST BLAST is not just an event; it is a testament to the power of community, faith, and shared experiences.

A recent CAST BLAST experience was one of a heartening display of community cohesion, with children playing, students interacting, and people of all ages engaging with one another. It was a sight to behold – a lively, multigenerational, multiethnic, and multicultural crowd, all lost in the rhythm of line dancing. The event was an unexpected but delightful blend of ages and cultures, all united by the shared rhythm of music and the ethos of Caring and Serving Together.

The CAST BLAST was an uplifting community celebration like no other I had experienced before. The food was delectable, the discussions enlightening, and the line dancing thoroughly enjoyable. But the most meaningful part of the day was towards the end, when some students stayed back, seeking answers to their profound questions about faith. As the sun dipped below the horizon, a few students, having made a significant decision, waded into the lake for a baptism.

Indeed, CAST BLAST is more than just an event – it’s a vibrant illustration of CAST’s transformative impact, fostering a connected community that celebrates diversity, cherishes shared experiences, and nurtures a commitment to Caring and Serving Together.

The Unwavering Spirit of Community

Building Homes, Hopes, and Hearts

In the fall of 2015, Amy Conn, the newly appointed principal of Early College Academy in Canton, was tasked with a 50-hour internship of service. Deciding to collaborate with the ministry partners of CAST, she began her journey with a day of service at a Habitat build, which would eventually lead to the conception of a community initiative that transcended all expectations.

Amy’s experience sparked a desire to contribute more significantly to her own school community. With this mission in mind, she reached out to Habitat, which led to the discovery of two families from Early College Academy who were already preparing to be homeowners under the Habitat program. It seemed like destiny.

While the challenge of building not just one, but two Habitat houses was daunting, the commitment from Canton City School District employees and CAST volunteers was unwavering. The financial burden of $100,000, however, was a hurdle they could not leap over through traditional fundraising methods. Recognizing the need for assistance, they decided to humbly reach out to their community, inviting like-minded individuals who not only cared for children, students, and families but also had a heart for their city, Canton.

The response was overwhelming. A gathering at Glenmoor, filled with heartfelt storytelling, interviews with the future homeowners, and a simple request for help, resulted in an outpouring of generosity. Within an hour, they had gathered more than enough funds, commitment, and support to make the dream a reality. As the homes rose, the sight of homeowners, students, Refuge of Hope residents, business leaders, Canton City School administrators, surgeons, and pastors working in unison was an unforgettable testament to the power of community and faith. It was an emphatic reminder of the remarkable things that can happen when we invite unity, love, and compassion into our lives.

Empowering Students at the Early College Academy

A Community Effort to Furnish Essential School Supplies

As the school year was about to commence at the newly established Early College Academy, Ken Brunner, the principal, identified a significant need – several students lacked essential school supplies. A conversation with the Caring and Serving Together (CAST) team sparked an ambitious project that surpassed the usual notion of extra pens and pencils, evolving into a monumental endeavor to provide every student – all 237 of them – with a brand-new backpack brimming with necessary academic tools. This wasn’t a simple shopping list, but a monumental task requiring calculators, binders, thousands of pens and pencils, books, scissors, rulers, and more – everything a student might need.

The process saw the community rally together in a demonstration of goodwill and unity. With many hands making light work, volunteers flocked to the cause, forming a lively assembly line at the Shackelford’s business. Mountains of supplies began to amass at drop-off locations, while generous monetary donations kept the secret shoppers funded. The largest project to date was met with recognition in local media, but the true testament to its success lay in the heartfelt thank-you notes from students and their families. As a trailer full of backpacks was delivered to the school, the joy etched on the students’ faces and the shared sense of accomplishment amongst the volunteers told a story far beyond the tangible – one of community, empathy, and the power of collective action.

Hours Volunteered

Lives Impacted

Scholarships Awarded

Get In Touch

Stay Connected!

Stay connected with the CAST community by signing up for our emails. Be the first to learn about upcoming volunteer opportunities or let your heart be touched by inspiring stories of lives transformed through our collective efforts.