“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” – Margaret Mead
Looking ahead to the final day of school, my colleague came up with the idea of hosting a walk-a-thon for students to be outside and raise money for a community organization. Thinking about would everyone be able to walk, we expanded the day to offer multiple community service projects for 8th-grade students to help many community organizations. We wanted to end the year by taking time to focus on helping others and making a difference in the community.
Many of the families in our school help to donate items when we hold school wide drives but community service is voluntary time, without compensation, spent on selfless acts which benefit the school or wider community. In addition to donating items like clothes, food, and toys, we wanted our students to serve the local or global community in a positive way. Many high schools require some community service hours for graduation but why not start sooner with young people. Community service fosters responsibility, understanding, and leadership.
The last day of school is actually a half day and students will have twenty minute periods. As a team, 80 minutes in total. Why not spend the final 80 minutes of team time participating in service projects? All of the activities will be held at school. After contacting community organizations and brainstorming possible service activities, using a Google Form students selected three activities they wished to participate in. Additionally, we asked the Parent Organization to get involved and they also donated pizza after the Day of Service for the 8th graders.
Here are the activities we have planned:
Dog Toys for Animal Shelters: Braid pull toys for animal shelter dogs at Incredible Pups Pet Rescue in Poughkeepsie.
Art for Osborn: Create works of art to share with the Osborn community. Brighten the day of a senior
Meals on Main Street: Stock the mobile food pantry truck before it goes out to do a pop-up pantry.
Spice Care Packages for Afghan Families: Help organize spice care packages for local Afghan families
Sandwich Making: Prepare sandwiches for a local homeless shelter.
Soul Ryeders: Design drawstring bags and friendship rocks for kids going to summer camp
Book Drive & Personalized Bookmarks: Curate books for donations to community centers and schools. Create personalized bookmarks to send messages of encouragement and reading to recipients.
Book Swap: Work the First Annual RMS Book Swap, helping 6th and 7th graders pick summer reading books. 8th-grade RMS families have donated these books.
School Supplies Drive & Organization: Help to organize school supplies to be distributed to students in need in the new school year.
Moving Up Ceremony Graphic Design: Help make signage for Moving Up Ceremony
RMS Clean Up: Clean out lockers and help identify the lockers with graffiti that need cleaning
Make Fleece Blankets for Children Blythedale Hospital
Lastly, we asked every student to bring a box of dry cereal to be donated to a local community organization to distribute during the summer to the food insecure. Emailing families with the details and reminders helped us to collect donations of books, school supplies, cereal, and t-shirts to use for the dog toys. We are excited to kick off this Day of Service which we hope can be an annual event.
Numerous studies report the benefit of community service among teens. Researchers also found that community service enhanced students’ problem-solving skills, improved their ability to work within a team, and plan more effectively. Social emotional development is integrated through service and service learning programs. Participating in community service does widen a student’s world view and give them context for how the world around them functions. Students are building social emotional lifeskill like
- Decision making
- Critical thinking