Young students at GHS saved their pennies all year for the St. John Animal Care Center and presented the shelter with a $600 check last week.
While the Gifft Hill School student body didn’t spend the day in classes on Tuesday, November 16, the students might just have learned a few lessons as valuable as algebra and geometry.
The entire 150-student body and 30-member staff volunteered for various groups and organizations last week as part of the St. John private school’s first ever GHS Gives Back Day.
GHS development director Beth Jones came up with the idea for the day of community service after attending a conference last January, she explained.
“I went to a conference in January and I saw that Bert’s Bees had a day where the whole company does community service projects and I just thought that was a great idea,” said Jones. “After I brought up the idea here, Angelita Bolques and Molly Murrill contacted all of the agencies and groups on St. John to see if they needed any help. We came up with a list of the groups who needed help and all 180 people, students and faculty, went out today.”
GHS Gives Back Day included sprucing up the Elaine I. Sprauve Library.
GHS Gives Back Day projects ranged from sprucing up the Elaine I. Sprauve Library and cleaning up around the St. John Animal Care Center to singing for senior citizens at the George Simmons Terrace Seniors’ Center and decorating the center for the holidays.
Older students even helped fix up a senior citizens’ Estate Pine Peace home, which had been damaged in the recent rains. Other students removed trash from Oppenheimer Beach and cleaned Solomon Bay trial.
Younger students at GHS, who had been saving their change since September for the St. John ACC through its “Pennies for Puppies” program, presented a $600 check to the no-kill shelter.
All of the projects were basically designed to send home the same message.
“The community supports us and I wanted the kids to realize how important that is,” said Jones. “So many people in the community, who don’t have an intimate connection to GHS, who don’t have kids here, always support us. I wanted the kids to be able to give back in some way.”
GHS head Judy Chamberlain got into the action as well, helping transport trash from the beach. She was impressed with the students’ work and deemed the day a success.
“What I saw was everyone helping each other and getting these projects completed,” said Chamberlain. “It was really great to see and the kids felt really good about it. They are still full of ideas and want to do this every week.”
The community service day helped students put value on the importance of being part of the community, explained Bolques, who helped organize the day.
“It was an excellent day and it was something that taught the kids how valuable it is to give back to the community,” said Bolques. “This is something that builds moral and character. They know this is something they should be doing.”
While the day presented some logistical challenges, the St. John Taxi Association helped out by transporting students to the project sites, explained Molly Murrill, who works in the GHS development office.
Despite the challenges, the day was a success and officials are definitely planning on another GHS Gives Back Day next year.
“It went great,” said Murrill. “The kids loved it and so many people were so appreciative of the help. It was a lot of work to get everyone to the sites, but it was definitely worth it.”
“The kids saw what they could do to help others,” Murrill said. “This is definitely the first annual GHS Gives Back Day.”