The Good Neighbour Committee at Rhema Christian School in Peterborough has been growing since it began five years ago.
With 10 members now, parent and committee member Reema Sukumaran says it has become one of the more popular committees at the elementary school.
There are several outreach events the committee organizes each year. Last week the committee organized the donation of new toys and packets of Dove products to Cameron House, a local women’s shelter. They are also donating backpacks with scarves and other items to the Brock Mission, a local men’s shelter.
At Thanksgiving the school hosts a dinner, geared towards those who are lonely. Students help serve the meal and different grades taking on activities such as making crafts and providing entertainment for the evening.
The dinner served about 50 people this year. The attendees were very receptive, says Sukumaran, and they clapped along while the elementary grades sang. While in other years the program was kept short because that was what people seemed to want, this year people didn’t want to leave.
“I guess it really does touch lives, they can’t wait for it next year,” says Sukumaran.
In February or March parents and students help make baked goods for baskets given to community members. Last year Sukumaran says they went through the yellow pages to find different associations and volunteer organizations to receive the baskets.
“That’s always a very special thing, people are just shocked at receiving it for no reason,” she says.
The school has a dragon boat team that participates in a breast cancer fundraiser each spring. This year funds supported the Peterborough Regional Health Centre to purchase new digital mammography units.
Sukumaran says the community at Rhema also ministers each other, for example by helping to provide meals to families who are sick.
The school’s theme this year to Shine Like Stars is what Christ calls us to do, says Sukumaran. “I think it’s so great that we can take that into the community and it’s great for our kids to know they need to give back to the community,” she says. “We need to be thankful for the things that our community workers do for us and not just take it for granted.”
Sukumaran has six boys, five who currently attend Rhema. She says it is important that her children see her involvement with the school and know Rhema is a part of them as a family and as a community.