The first-year program's purpose is to work toward the school's mission of "educating minds and shaping hearts for service to God in His world," school officials said.
“We are called as Christians to serve others," program coordinator Sherri Bradford-Royle explained. "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.”
Bradford-Royle coordinates projects for all grade levels at the school, and works with local businesses and nonprofit organizations to partner with them.
“This program was started because we wanted to connect our school’s mission to what we do for our community,” Grand Haven Christian School Principal Richard Geertsma said. "Students are learning as they are serving.”
One of the student groups worked at Grand Pines Assisted Living Center in Grand Haven. They pulled weeds, picked up sticks, cleaned the grounds and then played games with residents.
“It was great to play games with the residents and see them all smiling and laughing," seventh-grader Parker Kingma said. "We had a great time."
Chris Wildrom, the life enrichment assistant for Grand Pines, said he was thankful for the help.
“It means a lot to us," he said. "I like to see this generation able to give back. The students were enthusiastic, had lots of energy, and I love to see them prove the stereotype wrong that younger students do not have generous hearts.”
Another group did some cleaning at International Aid in Spring Lake Township. International Aid Facility Manager Mark Haveman also said he appreciated the help.
“It is great to see younger students who want to be involved in an outreach ministry program," he said. "To be a part of that is really unique.”
The middle school students served 13 different organizations in the area — including Love INC, Rosy Mound Natural Area and the Harbor Humane Society.