Middle School students are getting a taste of community service work through a new program introduced this year.
Once a month, students in grades 5 to 8 will spend an afternoon visiting local food banks, senior centres, and soup kitchens, lending a hand where help is needed.
Director of Middle School, Sabrina D’Angelo felt this was something that would enrich the Middle School experience and align with SAC’s mission of developing well-rounded individuals. She approached Randi Berman, Visual Arts teacher and Arts Coordinator to develop and facilitate the program.
“It’s about boys giving back, developing relationships within our community, and exposing them to the importance of community service before they enter high school,” says Randi, who has seen the benefits first-hand with her own family and other students over the years.
“My children and I have volunteered at food banks and it was a real awakening. It certainly made all of us stop and realize how lucky we are and how not everyone in our community is in the same situation,” she says.
Randi spent countless hours reaching out to various organizations in order to set up opportunities for the boys’ visits.
The first Community Giving Project took place October 29, when grades 5 and 6 changed out of their uniforms to something more appropriate for cleaning up nearby parks. They boys are now collecting new socks and food to take with them next month when they visit Inn from the Cold and the Newmarket Food Bank.
The grade 7s visited the Food Network in Aurora where they made apple sauce for healthy snacks for clients. Another group went to the Aurora Food Pantry where some organized shelves and others put the base coat down for a mural they are planning. The light blue paint already brightened up the space and the employees were very excited to hear the boys’ ideas. The class that visited Big Brothers and Big Sisters are learning to become mentors and will eventually be matched with students from less advantaged schools in our area.
Most of the grade 8s spent the afternoon with community seniors. At Newmarket Health Services, boys were paired up with people in wheelchairs. After having a wheelchair lesson, they participated in a scavenger hunt with their new partner. At Chartwell and the Aurora Senior Centre, several enjoyed playing pool and hearing stories. One class visited the Aurora Arboretum and learned to mulch; next month they go on to their regular placement at Mackenzie Place.
The afternoon was a great success on all fronts, with every boy actively involved and all the organizations excited about them returning November 26, the date of the next Community Giving Project afternoon.
“I am so proud of our boys and all the teachers involved,” says Randi. “I overheard some boys discussing plans for a food drive and other ideas to help those less fortunate.”
Click here to view a web gallery of the boys engaging in their various activities.
Story by Cindy Veitch