It’s become a spring tradition at Great Bend High School for students to spend a day volunteering for community projects. The sixth-annual Community Service Day got underway Wednesday after a student-recognition assembly in the gym.
Teachers recognized students for semester accomplishments and a few of the many service projects that they do throughout the year. These included the Student Ambassadors selling bracelets to help a teenager in Zimbabwe attend high school, and the El Sol Folk Dance Club performing and teaching a traditional Mexican dance to other students at this week’s Hispanic Culture Workshop at Barton Community College.
Earlier this year, the FFA members approached businesses in the community and raised $9,000. FFA Sponsor Kevin Hoff said the money was used to buy shovels, rakes, trash bags and other supplies the students would need for Community Service Day. Each student also received a T-shirt with the sponsors’ names on the back. On the front were the words, “When action meets compassion, lives change.”
The remainder of the money raised, $3,000, will be donated to Circles of Central Kansas, a community effort to end poverty in the Barton County area.
“This event has a huge impact on our area,” Student Council President Lindsey Newman said as she told students about this year’s donation. Circles representatives Lennie Maxwell and Rebecca Gillette attended the assembly to accept a poster-sized facsimile check from FFA members Brantly Baldwin, Ty Esfeld and Sam Paul.
“You need to know how big of an impact you make on this community,” Gillette told the students.
After the assembly, more than 800 students headed out for a day of service. Those who turned in permission slips from their parents boarded buses and traveled to assignments at parks, churches and daycare centers, said Andrea Stalcup, the Student Council sponsor and teacher in charge of the Service Day committee. For those who didn’t turn in their permission slips, “There are jobs here at the high school,” she said.
Students were assigned to 76 different jobs, Stalcup said. Some raked leaves at Brit Spaugh Park or cleared debris from the runway at the Great Bend Municipal Airport. At the Salvation Army, a team removed items from shelves so they could put up new shelving before restocking. They also touched up some of the drywall.
The cold, wet weather did cause a few projects to be canceled, Stalcup said. Students weren’t able to paint stripes on parking lots at the high school or Heartland Community Church, so they were reassigned to other tasks, for example.
It wasn’t all hard physical labor. Some would do crafts with residents at retirement centers or read books to preschoolers, Stalcup said. “There’s a wide variety of good stuff.”