In the Gospels, Jesus puts a great amount of energy into instructing us how we are to treat others. He emphasizes that being Christian means being someone who takes care of our neighbors. When we look at the world around us, it can seem difficult to pass on to our youth the great importance of serving others. However, at All Saints Catholic School, the KIDS (Kind Individuals Doing Service) Club gives middle school students the opportunity to work together as a group to serve those in need locally, nationally, and internationally.
“About five or six years ago, a parent approached us about having a student-led service project club in the school,” says Karl Hanke, one of the middle school teachers and the advisor for this club. “She came up with the name and we ran with it. It has been a very successful group that has been going ever since.”
There are many projects and activities that the students do year after year, but they also choose new projects that they want to do in support of various causes each year. This truly gives the students the opportunity to find and support causes that are important to them, as well as gives them the ability to learn what it takes to organize and effectively support a cause.
“We hold meetings during lunch — they bring their lunches to my room and we plan and assign roles,” Mr. Hanke says. “They do most of the footwork of contacting people or reaching out to other students to help with the volunteer efforts. They will put together the posters and prepare the social media posts that we hand off to our tech director, who will handle it from there. This truly is a student-led organization. They help with all of the logistical things and pull it all together.”
Some of the annual projects include filling boxes for Box of Joy, an organization that gives boxes of toys and necessities to children in third-world countries, Salvation Army bell ringing, making Christmas cards for nursing home residents, and a winter clothing drive. They also do service projects to help the staff and clergy around the school.
“Being a Catholic school, it is important to highlight the importance of the works of mercy and social justice,” Mr. Hanke says. “We want the students to see the value in helping others and we are hoping to build that passion inside of them. We are following the example of Jesus. It is great to see the excitement that they have about getting to help out and make a difference. They really have a hand in supporting the Catholic Church in being the biggest charitable organization in the world.”
Some of the one-time causes that the students have chosen to support have included coffee and cookies fundraisers for Maui fire victims, Ukrainian war victims, and Pakistani flood victims.
“The students do so much of the work, but it’s important to highlight just how involved the families are as well,” Mr. Hanke says. “We really see this increase in empathy and for kids in a small town, it is an eye-opener for them to see how they are capable of impacting the lives of others.”