Caring Starside students nearing volunteerism goal
Students at Starside Elementary School are working hard to earn the school's fifth School of Service Award through volunteer work.
In the past year, students have helped pick up trash, recycled paper, visited seniors in nursing homes, helped at the De Soto Multi-Service Center and even cut their hair to get volunteer hours.
Starside school counselor Paula Henderson has kept track of the children's hours. She said that if 24 students -- a number equaling 5 percent of the student population -- recorded 50 hours by May, the school would earn another School of Service Award. So far, 20 students have earned 50 or more hours.
"I've got a whole bunch of students who are only a few hours away, so we'll definitely keep our goal," Henderson said.
She said many students came up with creative ways to volunteer time in the community. School-wide efforts have included a food drive at Thanksgiving for the Multi-Service Center, helping teachers during parent-teacher conferences, or helping with family fun nights at Starside.
"A lot of our families are into volunteering," Henderson said. "Research shows if you start young, you tend to go into volunteer work in later years."
Connor Berg said he helped with an Easter party for senior citizens.
"I like to help out because of the respect you get from people," he said.
Megan McCulloch said she liked going to nursing homes.
"I like helping elderly people with their meals, because they need a little more help than the younger population," she said.
Tori Johnson said she performed a dance with her dance class at a nursing home and cut off some of her hair to donate. A program called "Locks of Love" uses real hair to create wigs for cancer patients and others who lose their hair through illness.
Bryce Zimmerman said he and his family went to the Multi-Service Center to help feed the homeless.
Graycee Reeves said volunteering is more than just a lot of hard work.
"You get to do a lot of fun stuff," she said.
"It's a lot better than watching TV all day," he said.
The students spend Thursday nights volunteering after school and do one hour of recycling, helping teachers, picking up trash or doing whatever needs to be done at Starside.
"We believe strongly in giving everyone the opportunity to volunteer and give them that good feeling of helping someone," Henderson said.