Category Archives: Service Learning Blog

North Pointe Elementary Student Council Participates in Operation Christmas Child

“Let my heart be broken with the things that break the heart of God” – Bob Pierce, founder and leader of Samaritan’s Purse.

Bob Pierce not only believed the story of the Good Samaritan, he based an entire nondenominational evangelical Christian organization around the parable. He has national leadership teams train pastors and community leaders who want to share the message of the Gospel and bless children in over 100 countries.

During this season of giving, the Student Council at North Pointe Elementary of Boone County School District partnered with the Samaritan’s Purse to take on Operation Christmas Child. Engaging their peers, student council members created fliers inviting everyone from their school to donate items they could include in shoeboxes to be given to boys and girls living in areas hit by hurricanes and floods. Donations were collected over the course of a month to prepare over 30 shoeboxes for the students’ first international service learning project.

Operation Christmas Child collects shoebox gifts—filled with fun toys, school supplies and hygiene items—and delivers them to children in need around the world. For many of these children, the gift-filled shoebox is the first gift they have ever received. To date, Operation Christmas Child has gifted more than 146 million shoeboxes to children in more than 160 countries and territories. In 2017 Operation Christmas Child is hoping to gift 12 million shoeboxes to children in countries like Peru, the Philippines, Rwanda and Ukraine. To learn how you can be a part of Operation Christmas Child, click here.

Groups and individuals around the world are touching the lives of children and families through similar donations. National Collection week has passed, but it’s not too late to pack a shoebox! You can still build a shoebox online and track its destination. Imagine if we packed shoeboxes and gave to those experiencing homelessness here in Kentucky. For ideas on how you can extend this project year-round click here.

Shari “The Bag Lady” visits St. Philip School

It’s been almost two years since Shari Petrie, of Latonia, became known as “The Bag Lady.” Her passion as an environmentalist led her to crochet mats for people experiencing homelessness. The bags she uses may otherwise block the flow of streams, be hazardous to the metabolism of living organisms or pack landfills as the plastic used to make them does not break down overtime. Researchers estimate that 269,000 tons of plastic float on the ocean’s surface.

Shari and her recycled treasures
Shari showing Mrs. Twehues’ & Mrs. Dee’s students how to make plarn

In science class, students at St. Philip School learned about the Great Pacific Garbage Patch and the negative impacts that plastic has on our waterways. Students then invited “The Bag Lady” to help them tie what they learned in the classroom with ways they can give back to the community. Shopping bags separated by the school’s 2nd graders were used by Mrs. Dee’s 4th grade and Mrs. Twehues’ 5th/6th split class to make plarn, plastic yarn. It takes just a few easy steps to produce plarn: fold a shopping bag in fourths, cut the folded bag into thirds and the final step is to slip knot the cut pieces together. To participate in creating plarn, join “The Bag Lady” at Mackenzie’s Work Shop January 12, 2018.

students making plarn
students making plarn

Northern Kentucky University freshman, Lexi Twehues, volunteered to help students make plarn. Students and teachers engaged their community, asking the school and parish members to donate plastic bags to be processed into plarn. Using an US Q, Shari will crochet the plarn into four “bean bag” chairs.  “The Bag Lady” expects to use anywhere from 1,000 to 2,000 bags to complete one bean bag chair. All four chairs will be donated to the Duke Energy Children’s Museum at the Cincinnati Museum Center.  Children’s Museum staff is excited to receive this donation and believe the chairs will help inspire visitors to recycle.

Students from St. Philip School with Shari “The Bag Lady”

Honoring Sophia with Mya’s Wish Come True

When classmate Sophia lost her life to cancer this year, Longbranch Elementary students and teachers grieved with Sophia’s family. In the midst of their sorrow and need to ‘do something’, Sophia gave them a powerful purpose when they passed her wish forward to help another child battling cancer treatment. Sophia had wanted nothing more than to swim with the mermaids at Disney World. Before her death, the Make-A-Wish Foundation made this happen for her and her family. When Principal Erika Bowles suggested to Mrs. Melanie Roberts that perhaps their school play could help the community heal and give back to the Make-A-Wish Foundation, teacher Mrs. Roberts and the director, Mrs. Regina Melvin, sprang to action. This is the story of how they empowered their students, teachers, parents, and community partners to collaborate around a powerful service learning experience.

Partnering with the Make-A-Wish Foundation in conjunction with their production of The Little Mermaid, Jr., students raised money for Mya, another local little girl with cancer that had a similar wish as Sophia’s. In addition to practicing their roles, creating props, sets, and market items, the students debated about how much to charge for the admittance. Their decision was to accept any donation people wished to give. In addition, students made items that were sold at the “Market” each night of the play. At last count, Longbranch students and teachers had raised $18,370.00!

Although Mya is still in treatment for lymphoma, a cancer that effects your immune cells, Mya and her family now have the opportunity to visit Disney World to meet with her favorite princesses, including Ariel. The purpose of the Make-A-Wish program is to bring hope, strength, and joy to children experiencing serious illness. These experiences give children something to look forward to despite all the challenges they face.

But the gift truly was reciprocal. Longbranch students and teachers connected learning with compassion, giving them strength and hope because of Sophia, Mya and their families. Members of the cast and crew reflected about what they experienced as their favorite parts of this project. Simone was “grateful to Conner High School students that volunteered by helping the Mersisters learn their lines”. Many students expressed their thanks to Mrs. Roberts, Mrs. Melvin, Mrs. Steele, and others, for making the play happen. Fifth grader Malachi Beesley’s favorite thing is “how everyone gets to express different things.” Tyler Steffen, also a fifth grader, said his favorite thing about the play “is getting to honor Sophia and help Mya get her wish.” Crew member Christina Norsworthy agreed. Her favorite thing is that it is helping other people.

St. Cecilia Fifth Graders – Impacting the Children of Shelby County

“Kind of sad. It also made me feel so blessed for all of the food we have.”  A fifth grade girl shifted her weight as she shared her feelings. She belongs to Kathy Wustefeld’s fifth grade class at St. Cecilia in Northern Kentucky.

In November as the students excitedly returned from Thanksgiving break and eagerly stated their impatience for Christmas break, Ms. Wustefeld shared some information about students in Shelby County. She painted a raw picture of the students afraid to go home for a two week Christmas break due to the lack of food in their homes. These same children eat breakfast, lunch and a late afternoon snack at school. On weekends they are offered backpacks of snacks to take home with them.

The impact of this picture empowered the fifth grade class to make a difference. A raffle to raise money, a book drive, and a jacket drive were conducted at the school. For the raffle, students donated items from their homes. The students also gained a multitude of skills by encouraging the student body to buy tickets through classroom presentations, morning announcements, and posters created in art class. As students of all ages visited the raffle table, fifth graders paired up with kindergartners to help them with the process. A student describes his experience:

“It took a lot of patience because the kindergartens didn’t know what they wanted. But it was also fun and they were cute.”

Through the raffle 2,345 tickets were purchased, raising $586.30. The students learned a probability lesson by equating the chances for winners for each basket based on the number of tickets they had entered. They also used line graphs to measure which basket was the most popular and which was the least.

As a culmination, students prepared written reflections and made video clips to highlight their experiences… moving forward a little more grateful than before.

St. Philip – Ongoing Success

Service Learning St. PhilipChildren, Inc., the Jefferson Award Foundation and other sponsors are proud to recognize St. Philip School of Northern Kentucky for their ongoing success in implementing Service Learning into the classroom and community.  Because of this diocesan school, not only is the community being positively impacted, but the students are developing a deeper understanding for how to use their skills to make a difference in the world.

 

Reflecting upon elements of a successful service learning experience, 5th grade teacher  Jennifer Twehues says,

“A successful Service Learning project starts and ends with the students.  Projects must be student driven and student centered in order to be successful.  This influences our students’ daily lives and gives them a voice in a better society.  Students take away a life skill that encompasses compassion and gratitude.”

New Hope Food Pantry is a reoccurring community agency that is impacted by St. Philip’s students.  Ms. Twehues describes her school’s experiences with community partners as “fulfilling, rewarding, and gratifying”.

Holy Family School – Helping the Homeless

Holy Family Blanket and Teddy BareOn a warm day in mid October, educator Joan Myers-Hinzman, her colleague Beth Vieth, and Executive Director Kim Webb of the Emergency Shelter of NKY met at Holy Family School in Covington to discuss the needs of their community.  As a reoccurring School of Contribution, Holy Family has participated annually in service learning projects instilling civic engagement into their student body.  Bringing the Emergency Shelter of NKY to the table this year would provide the school with an unfiltered picture of homelessness, and increase the student’s awareness of homelessness in the community.

On November 30, Holy Family gathered its students for a canned food drive kick off assembly including a presentation given by Kim Webb.  She described not only what homelessness is, but also what her organization does to help.

“We are the only emergency shelter in NKY that provides emergency night time sheltering for adults in our region.  We are also the only shelter that accepts those actively addicted, ( also those that are) handicapped accessible and takes a direct referral from hospitals, jails and local law enforcement. Our winter life saving shelter is open from November 1- March 31 and when we are below freezing, we work hard to not turn any adult away that needs shelter. We are the safety net for adults.  This winter we have sheltered over 400 adults that needed a safe and warm place to sleep at night.”

Following the assembly Kim visited individual classrooms inviting the students to participate in age appropriate discussions.  From stuffing back packs to debunking myths, 65 students grades K-8 reflected together about uncomfortable topics such as homelessness, hunger, poverty, and unemployment.

By mid-December, 788 canned foods were hand delivered to Our Savior and St. Benedict Church Food Pantries.  But the students’ involvement didn’t end there.  As Catholic Schools Week in February approached, students organized and raffled a 53” teddy bear donated by Airport Ford, and also eight flannel tie blankets to raise money towards snack bag contents for the guests at the emergency shelter.  The students raised $118.00! Then snack bags were decorated, filled, and delivered in the first week of February.

Through this service learning project, not only did the students experience a greater depth of knowledge, but they helped meet a real community need.  Kim Webb believes service learning is an opportunity to inspire.

“Service Learning has had a tremendous impact at the Emergency Shelter of NKY in several ways.  Every donation has a direct impact on guests when they are in shelter. On our end, service learning has allowed the opportunity to educate the community and inspire the next generation of volunteers and donors in the world.”

Teddy “Bare” Challenge 2017

Children, Inc. Service Learning Coordinators prepare the bears to help your students address the “bare” necessities in their communities!

Click for the Teddy “Bare” Application

 

Sometimes, a simple thing can lead to deep learning.

We invite your students to create a purpose for one of the 3 huggable, plush teddy bears donated by Airport Ford!

All grade level students are invited to get creative, engage in research, read, interview, survey…. and then design a compassionate purpose for one of three adorable bears in such a way that they develop new knowledge, skills, and address a bare necessity in our region. Students and teachers can integrate the bear’s purpose into any subject area; but must connect to content while including student voice and a meaningful service/need.

 Applications must be emailed or faxed to Children, Inc. Service Learning Initiative by
5PM on January 26, 2017.
mconnolly@childreninc.org
Fax 859.431.3385

Schools as Change Agents

Children, Inc., the Jefferson Award Foundation, and Cincinnati area sponsors recognized 33 K-12 schools as Schools of Contribution for their civic contributions during the 2015-2016 school year. Each school received this recognition for their ongoing success in implementing Service Learning into the classroom and community.  Because of these schools, not only is the community being positively impacted, but the students are practicing compassion and developing a deeper understanding for how to use their skills to make a difference in the world.

Reflecting upon elements of a successful service learning experience, St. Philip teacher  Jennifer Twehues says, “A successful Service Learning project starts and ends with the students.  Projects must be student driven and student centered in order to be successful.  This influences our students’ daily lives and gives them a voice in a better society.  students take away a life skill that encompasses compassion and gratitude.”

Students and teachers are partnering with social service agencies, civic organizations, businesses, and others to investigate and respond to needs in their own community. Sharing their expertise and often being the recipients of students services, community partners are essential to the success of service learning experiences. New Hope Food Pantry is one of many reoccurring community agency partners impacted by students throughout this region.  Ms. Twehues describes her school’s experiences with community partners as “fulfilling, rewarding, and gratifying”.