At St. Clement School, the 8th grade performed service for the Church of the Good Shepherd. Namely, physical labor to support the upkeep of the Church, the Mission Store, and the Food Pantry. The Church of the Good Shepherd serves the community of Campton, which is located in the Appalachian mountain region, through outreach including a food pantry and mission store. The mission store sells clothing and household items at minimal cost, affording a way for the community to clothe their families and decorate their houses while maintaining a sense of worth and dignity in providing for their families.
While the students were in Campton they completed a variety of tasks, which included: trimming rose plants back from the creek bed, moving rocks back into place along the creek bank, weeding and mulching a large portion of the gardens, tilling a large area for planting (by hand!), creating a new area for gardening along the food pantry, organizing and separating shoes to be sent to Water Step ministry, organizing books to be distributed, alphabetizing a year’s worth of donation envelopes, organizing a bookshelf in the church common area, and cleaning up the area afterward!
All of these tasks came after unloading not only the St. Clement truck of donations at the Mission Store, but also a “packed to the gills” van from a church in Indiana that arrived while we were there. Finally, they unloaded the food and diapers at the church Food Pantry on the Church grounds.
In the classroom, the 8th graders learned about immigration patterns through their social studies textbook and the pamphlet, Cincinnati: A City of Immigrants. Each student chose an immigrant group to read about from the Cincinnati area. The students then wrote a summary of their groups’ “story” of coming to America. This included what talents, traditions, and cultural ideas they contributed to the area. As a class, they discussed the importance of treating immigrants with respect and dignity as all humans have the right to be treated justly and fairly.
Discussion also included concern for the poor and underserved and how their service at the church helped those families with food, clothing, and other services. Cleaning up the grounds enabled the church to provide a comfortable and appealing place for those that attend church or use its services.
Students learned that not everyone is as fortunate as they are, even those students who do not have a great deal of material or financial wealth in 8th grade. They learned that giving service helps others but it also helps one to discover themselves. The students impact on the church was astounding. In the short time they were there, the students and chaperones completed work that would take days or weeks for one person to do. All of their work benefits not only the people of Campton but other areas as well.
This service learning project was in conjunction with St. Clement Church and Sr. Susan Marie at the mission, therefore much of the trip was pre-designed. Students were assigned to their church tasks, however, they did discuss their tasks and were responsible with their chaperone to complete them. Students wrote a reflection about their experience and service at the Good Shepherd Church in Campton, KY, feel personally affected, and hope to expand the program in the future.