“We are called as Christians to serve others," said Sherri Bradford-Royle, coordinator of the school's service-learning program. "Going out into the community gives the students the opportunity to not only serve, but educate themselves on the needs of our community. Our goal is for them to have this awareness as they get older and to develop the desire to serve.”
This is the program's first year. Bradford-Royle coordinates projects for all grade levels at the school, and works with local businesses and nonprofit organizations to partner with.
“This program was started because we wanted to connect our school’s mission to what we do for our community,” GHCS Principal Richard Geertsma said. "Students are learning as they are serving.”
The middle school students served 16 different organizations in the area — including the Ottawa Area Center, Love INC, Rosy Mound Natural Area, The Salvation Army and the Lakeshore Pregnancy Center.
One of the groups worked at Christian Haven Home. They pulled weeds and then played games with residents. The home's administrator, LeeAnne Dixon, said she appreciated the students’ help.
“We are a nonprofit organization and need to keep costs down for our residents, so it is a blessing to have the student volunteers," she said. "The residents love to spend time with young people and enjoy talking, sharing and playing games.”