Kindergarten through eighth-grade students of Our Lady of Presentation Catholic School are challenged each year to perform 100 service hours for their community.
These hours might be earned shoveling a neighbor’s driveway after a snowstorm, caring for a friend’s pet when they are on vacation, or making Valentine’s Day cards for residents of John Knox Village. This year OLP wanted to take volunteering up a notch by helping their Lee’s Summit community as well those the students are often not aware of, the hungry or homeless.
In October of 2013, the OLP Service Club was formed, a Facebook group was created to ease communication, and t-shirts were ordered to make it official. The t-shirts are “safety yellow” to make sure the students would be easily visible during volunteer outings. Activity suggestions were sought, and reservations were made.
On Nov. 23, students put coats, hats, scarves, and gloves on over their bright yellow t-shirts and gathered at the school playground to spread four dump-truck loads of mulch in their play area. The students put together quite a system using rakes, wheelbarrows, and snow shovels to spread the mulch.
Fortunately they were able to stay busy so the 26-degree-weather didn’t bother them too much.
The following Wednesday, students gathered at John Knox Village to spread Christmas Cheer by helping the residents decorate for Christmas. When they were done with their tasks the halls had been transformed, and the residents had smiles on their faces.
The Service Club manned bells and red buckets for the Salvation Army on Dec. 14. Groups of students and families rang bells for four hours at the Lee’s Summit local Hy-Vee stores. Carols were sung, and the buckets were filled.
To start the New Year, the Service Club volunteered for two hours at the Harvesters headquarters in Kansas City. More than 1,000 bags were assembled for the BackSnack program. Students were humbled to learn that these bags of food would be distributed to school children that otherwise would have very little to eat over the weekend.
After a tour of the facility many students commented that the Service Club needs to do more to ensure the Harvesters pantry always has food for kids.
During Catholic Schools Week at the end of January the Harvesters BackSnack program was mirrored for those students that attend Catholic schools that may not have healthy food or snacks during the weekend. The kids were very surprised to find out that those they encounter while playing sports for the Kansas City Parochial League may not have enough to eat.
Feeding homeless men on a cold February night was the focus when the group gathered on Feb. 8.
The students made potato chowder (from scratch!), and assembled 72 ham and cheese sandwiches and 60 bags of cookies for Project Uplift. The younger students also made cards for those that would be fed. The food was delivered warm, that evening by adult volunteers.
The Project Uplift coordinator visited the Service Club and told them about the people they would be feeding that night.
Service Club at OLP has just gotten started. Upcoming events include:
In March, students will participate in a “live like the homeless” exercise. Staff of Operation Breakthrough will tell the students how the homeless find shelter and food. At the end of the night care kits will be made for each family to keep in their car. These kits will be filled with healthy items such as granola bars, apple sauce, and nuts; and, when the family encounters a homeless or hungry individual they will have something handy to offer them.
Building on their Harvesters experience, the students are going to sponsor a food drive for Lee’s Summit Social Services on March 21. Items such as peanut butter, jelly, canned meats, baby wipes, and toilet paper will be collected and delivered.
On April 25 the Service Club will gather at the Lee’s Summit Social Services facility to assist with sorting food and clothing.
The Service Club plans on cooking two additional meals for Project Uplift in the summer and fall and would like to again visit Harvesters to assist with assembling BackSnacks.