This past school year students from a Stratford school blessed their local community with over 700 hours of service.
Principal David Straatsma notes the project was not intended to be a promotion for the school.
“We were simply encouraging children to reach out more,” he says. “(It was done) to encourage them to be Biblically obedient to the call to go out and help those less fortunate, to use the gifts they’ve been given in whatever way God calls them to.”
The school’s theme for the year was “Called to be a blessing.” It was based on the Scripture verse, 1 Peter 3:8-9, which says, “Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love as brothers, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.” (New International Version)
Students had booklets in which to record how they blessed others with service. Kindergarten to Grade 5 students were required to complete 10 hours of service while Grade 6 to 8 had to do 20 hours.
A wide range of services was carried out, from raking leaves for a neighbour to helping the local humane society empty its funding boxes in local malls.
One family helped clothe a homeless man while others assisted with their church programs.
As students completed their hours they were recognized with an official certificate of completion which was presented during one of the school’s monthly assemblies.
Straatsma says the monthly recognition helped encourage and remind the students to continue with the activities.
At Christmas, the students took a themed program to the local retirement homes, also with the idea of reaching out to the community and giving back in some way.
Olbach says the response from students was generally very good. “Some were very excited (about doing the activities),” she says.
The Stratford school, which has 95 students, selects a theme each school year to shape its direction.
“Then we get creative with some ideas of how the children can learn about what the theme means and apply to it their lives,” says Olbach.