Eighth-graders help lighten community’s load
Mary Bichelmeyer didn't know how she was going to complete all the tasks on her schedule last Friday at the De Soto Community Center.
Bichelmeyer had to prepare and serve the noon meal at the center, make up meals for delivery to homebound seniors and set up chairs and tables for the Oldtime Pickers and Singers gathering in the city gymnasium that evening.
A group of Lexington Trails Middle School eighth-graders lightened her load.
"We were so down because of all the work that had to be done," she said. "And here they all come walking in the door. It was like a gift from God.
"They don't even know what they did for us. It really picked us up."
The students went to work on all the tasks, finishing them before 11 a.m. They found time to sweep the stage and prepare homemade bread and deviled eggs.
The visit to the senior center was part of a community service day at Lexington. Candace Boehm, eighth-grade language arts teacher and organizer of the community service day, said the school's eighth-graders fan out across the community twice a year. Last Friday, students lent a helping hand at Starside Elementary, the De Soto Youth Ministries, Zimmerman's Kill Creek Farm, City Hall and the Baptist and Methodist churches. Other students donned orange vests and picked up trash along .
"Basically, I just call places we've been to in the past where I think they will need help," she said. "Everywhere we went the people were very complimentary, they kids had a good time. They were tired, but they had a good time."
The day introduces kids to the positive aspects of community service, Boehm said.
"It gives the kids a chance to do something positive and to hear someone say, 'Thank you for what you have done,'" she said.
The interaction also allows the community to meet students in a positive way, Boehm said.
At Zimmerman's farm, a group of students pitched substandard pumpkins to goats and sheep, sweep the barn, loaded straw that was to be used at the Mr. Goodcents grand opening and sweep the barn.
"I love working outside," Lucas Walker said.
Still, it is doubtful any of the students were more useful than those who visited the Senior Center.
"They called to tell me they were coming earlier in the week, but I forgot about it," Bichelmeyer said. "They have been really appreciated around here today."
Eighth-grader Daniel Dabbs said he didn't expect thanks.
"I wanted to help," he said. "I thought I'd be the most help here."