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Hamagreal students spend afternoon giving back

Volunteer projects part of Kids Helping Kids program

Hamagrael Elementary students take part in an afterschool program where they can volunteer their time to give back to local causes. The day of service is part of the school's Kids Helping Kids initiative.

Hamagrael Elementary students take part in an afterschool program where they can volunteer their time to give back to local causes. The day of service is part of the school's Kids Helping Kids initiative. Photo by Marcy Velte.

— The afterschool program was created last year so students could give more of their time.

“It’s sometimes hard for parents to bring kids somewhere to volunteer, so we figured we would bring it to the kids to make it easier,” said Lane.

The afterschool program is held once a year, but because of its growing popularity the school and PTA may look into holding it more often. Lane said last year fewer than 50 kids showed up, but this year nearly 150 students volunteered.

Dylan Grimaldi-Johnson, 11, spent his time at the Valentine’s station, making detailed cards for soldiers. Within the program’s hour he made two cards, while other kids had made dozens, but he explained he likes taking his time to ensure the soldiers will get the best card possible.

“I learned this from an art class thing I took with my older sister,” he said while creating a criss-cross design on the paper and coloring in alternate boxes. “She’s the real artist interested in this stuff.”

Kaitlyn Coffee, 9, said she started making Valentine’s cards but switched to helping pack lunches.

“It makes me feel good to know I’m helping. I want to make their face light up. I wish I could be there to see them get what we made,” she said.

Unlike the adults, Coffee said she wasn’t surprised by the number of students who signed up to volunteer.

“We’re a big school that likes helping our community,” she said.

Other students made snowflakes for next year’s Adopt a Snowflake program, while some made posters to say goodbye to retiring school staff.

Cole Edwards, 11, said he mostly made Valentine’s too, but tried to help out wherever he could. He said he feels sorry for people who have it tougher in life and plans to volunteer for his community all of his life.

“This won’t ever change for me,” he said, which is exactly what school officials and PTA members hope to instill in their students through the program.

“We want them to become productive member of society,” said Ksanznak.

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