At Prairie Creek Community School, the theme this year is all about service—and students had a chance to put what they learned into action during their Family Service Night on Feb. 18.
The outreach effort started when Heather Bae, a Prairie Creek parent, suggested hosting something similar to a different service night she’d seen while working in Owatonna. As Bae and other parent volunteered contacted local organizations to ask what sorts of needs were in the community, Prairie Creek teacher Michelle Martin started working with the students. The students decided to form a group of second-fourth graders to run the event, calling themselves “Raising Hands” and working with the motto, “Do good, have fun, make the world a better place.”
“Raising Hands” students successfully wrote and applied for a grant through the Healthy Community Initiative, solicited donations from families, organized donations and worked with teachers to run the event. Each classroom had a different project, creating donations for causes such as the Three Links Care Center, the Northfield Police Department and the Northfield VFW. Students learned about their organizations and their needs and came up with ideas about how to help out. Some projects included background information sheets and instructions for their projects as well.
“We were thrilled that [students] took on so much ownership,” Martin said. “It was a school-wide effort and kids felt empowered.”
During Family Service Night, each classroom ran a “station,” with students volunteering for shifts. There were 12 projects in all, ranging from cat toys for an animal shelter to “meal-in-a-bags” for the Northfield food shelf. Students worked with parents and teachers to create their projects, showing them what to do. More than 300 people attended the event, creating more than 1,000 donation items.
“I thought it was very good because so many people helped and made so many things,” said Carter Lefkowitz, 10, one of the students in the “Raising Hands” group.
Other “Raising Hands” kids agreed, sharing how much they enjoyed helping others. While some of them will graduate the school this year, they said they wanted to find more ways to help in their new school or combine efforts with their former classmates next year.
Grace Webb covers the cities of Northfield and Lonsdale, and writes about public safety. You can reach her at 645-1117.