Dene E. Gainey

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A Little Bit of Service Goes a Long Way

Second Harvest Food Bank

This word, that students chose to take a photo in front of, epitomizes the reason why we chose to serve today, to bring hope. Second Harvest Food Bank is all about hope, spreading hope too those in need, putting smiles on faces and food in the bellies of the community. We made our journey to the food bank on Tuesday, January 31, 2017. Our charge was about 4 hours of donation sorting. Students dived right in, along with me and the parent volunteer that accompanied us.

Students listened attentively as Ms. G. delivered instructions regarding the task of the day and the specifics about what needed to be accomplished.




As you can see above, students work to relabel these cans and box them up to be given to families in need. These students did such an incredible job and honestly for me, it was listening to the conversations had by them while working, from music to the ability to give back to the community. We completed a short periscope video where students highlighted their feelings about what was happening in here. They really understood the value of serving and asked several times about staying longer, not wanting to return to school. Students were lifting boxes, sorting donations to determine what was good and what needed to be tossed and really learning what it means to work together. After a while, students learned how to streamline the process all on their own. They identified a role for themselves, even if that role was bouncing between the tasks in order to accomplish the ultimate goal. They had great takeaways from this experience and genuinely each expressed their excitement about returning in February and March. When I reported back to school, I communicated to my administration how impactful the experience was and how each student internalized it. I encouraged parents to talk to their students about this when they arrived home, so that the parent understood the relevance of the permission they each gave for their students to attend. These students will NEVER be the same. I will NEVER be the same.

The students were proud of their accomplishments. Here (above), students posed by the 54 boxes they so efficiently packed, each box containing 24 cans. Each box weighed about 25 pounds.

These students rode with me in my car and why were they competing for the front seat, not to mention how they wanted to ride to and from the food bank with me, not extending the opportunity of students in the other car to ride back with me. The conversations had by these students though were interesting as I drove, had a navigator and one to control the radio to make it suitable for all passengers. What is interesting, as I reflect on this experience, is the effect of taking the time to demonstrate service and what that means is a learning experience. Students can glean so much from an educator who sets the example for what it means to be a good citizen honing in on the benefits of service. My life has been dedicated to service, as an educator for eleven years and as a veteran of the US Air Force for eight years. Leading by example is powerful. Yes, many will hear what you say, but they will respect you for what you do.


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