Through stories and class discussion, the third grade class at West Elementary arrived at the idea that they would like to reach out and help our community as a third grade community service project. They listed many ways they could help others locally and then voted on a final project. They voted to serve our community by helping out at the Christ Kitchen at the United Methodist Church, 648 Oak St., Newcomerstown. So we contacted Chasity Opphile and she assured us that all student volunteers would be welcomed and appreciated.
Monday, March 12 was our project day. Eight students were able to attend the service project out of a class of 18. Students helped serve meals while entertaining the other volunteers. They went around to the tables and took drink orders and even helped carry bowls of soup when someone needed a hand. Students realized that a lot of work went into the clean up process. They helped clear dishes from tables, wiped off tables and took tubs of dishes to the dishwashers. Being a teacher, I have moments when I have to remind students to stay on task, but this was not one of those moments. I was amazed at the enthusiasm students had for serving others, not even once did I need to remind them to focus on others. That was their mission; to serve others and I believe they did an incredible job of it! The many volunteers welcomed our students and were appreciative of their contributions. In addition, the patrons of the Christ Kitchen were very impressed with the students' service. I had one student, Jordan Sanders, who was baffled at the patrons' responses, "Mrs. Hlad, everyone keeps telling me, 'Thank you!'" I asked him how that made him feel and he replied "Really good!" Students walked around with big smiles while they busied themselves with helpful tasks. Students did get to enjoy the food as well; they figured out their own rotation so that everyone would get to eat and also that there would always be someone serving. The huge slices of chocolate cake were too tempting to resist!
Students helped for over two hours, serving, clearing and cleaning. Some students decided that they would like to help every Monday they liked it so well! I am so proud that we have this great service offered right here in our community and even more so proud that we have students that are so enthusiastic not only about thinking of others, but also serving others so cheerfully! Thank you goes out to Ashley Russell, Kobe Lower, Keona Abel, Donnie Sorbara, Samantha Gardner, Corie Downer, Kylah Penrod, Jordan Sanders, Chasity, and all the volunteers at Christ Kitchen and my mother, Judi Houston, for all your help in making their class project a success. If you have not been to the Christ Kitchen, they have wonderful food and delicious desserts.
The Christ Kitchen is open on Mondays from 4 to 6:15 p.m. The meal is free but donations are accepted.
For information, contact United Methodist Church at 498-8134 and ask for Chasity Opphile.
(Angie Hlad is a third grade Intervention Specialist at West Elementary, Newcomerstown Schools.)