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Students learning to serve with a smile

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The ITW Club — Imagine the World — asks members to imagine if a small group could change the world. The purpose of the club, now in its second year, is to encourage students to be involved and to be service-minded.

“Katie Cumming, our counselor, had the idea,” explained Jenna Gable, the school’s ESOL teacher and one of the teachers who helps with ITW. “She noticed that they had service-minded clubs at the middle school level, and our sixth-graders are basically middle school. They needed something like a service-minded club to help them transition.”

The students rose to the occasion, Gable said.

“We had a strong group last year and this year, we have 26 students who joined,” she said. “They work really hard at every project we tackle.”

Most recently, the students traveled to Journey Church to help pack food boxes, specifically Christmas boxes.

“Last month, we worked for the church’s food pantry, packing some of their regular boxes,” Gable said. “They asked us to come back and help with the Christmas boxes.”

Mary Cranford, member of Journey Church and organizer of the food pantry, said she loves having the students from West End help out.

“It is such a blessing to us,” Cranford said. “Most people do not realize how much work goes into running one of these, especially for Christmas boxes, because it is hard to get volunteers this time of year.”

The ITW Club made a big impression last time they helped, she added.

“They managed to fill 80 boxes in 45 minutes,” she said, smiling. “Normally between me and four or five other volunteers, that takes a lot more time.”

Speaking to the students before they start packing, Cranford explained to them that they were helping make Christmas a little brighter for families in need.

“The people will come in, get these boxes, along with a hen, and this is all specifically for their Christmas dinner,” Cranford said. “You’re allowing families to have a Christmas dinner that they may not have been able to have otherwise.”

Several students smiled and their faces lit up as they heard what they were going to be doing.

“It makes me feel good that people will get what they need to be able to celebrate Christmas,” said Kiana Tapia, member of ITW. “In my house, helping people is very important and I wanted to be involved.”

Offering help to others is an important thing to teach kids, said Danielle Mullen, a member of Journey Church who was also helping at the pantry.

“I grew up doing things like this and it’s very important that kids learn to do this,” Mullen said. “It teaches kids and adults compassion. Some of the best memories I have are working with my family and friends to help others.”

Cranford added that seeing the sixth-graders helping is just good for the spirit.

“It is refreshing for me,” she said. “This can wear you down sometimes, but to see their smiling faces and their excitement, it refreshes my soul.”

Sixth-grader Chalise Herring agreed.

“I feel good about helping those less fortunate,” she said. “I like filling the boxes and knowing someone will be able to have a nice Christmas dinner.”


Click here for West End website


Click here for Journey church website.