Sixth-graders help others with annual service project

By: Brendan Losinski | Birmingham - Bloomfield Eagle | Published December 4, 2017

 The sixth-graders at Detroit Country Day School assisted at a variety of charitable organizations Nov. 3 as part of an annual service project.

The sixth-graders at Detroit Country Day School assisted at a variety of charitable organizations Nov. 3 as part of an annual service project.

Photo provided by Ashley Veenstra

BEVERLY HILLS — The sixth-graders at Detroit Country Day School in Beverly Hills were spotted around the community Nov. 3 supporting several organizations that help those in need.

It is done each year as part of a class service project to teach the students how and why they should help, and to provide a helping hand to those trying to assist others.

“This is the 15th year, and we go twice a year — once in the fall and once in the spring — and we really, as a teaching community, feel that helping our students to positively impact the community around them is the greatest lesson we can provide, and how much of a difference giving up their time and talents can make,” explained Jane Pohl, the sixth-grade class adviser for DCDS. “Every month, we try to give them a new service project to contribute to.”

This time, the sixth-graders helped at five locations around town: at LighthousePATH, which aids women and children in need; at Grace Centers of Hope, which assists the homeless population; at two homes belonging to Angel’s Place, which supports people with developmental disabilities; and at Alcott Elementary in Pontiac.

“We were looking for organizations within our community that need help, but not a lot take help from 11-year-olds. These are places that always need help and welcome younger children with good hearts who are ready to be inspired,” said Pohl. “Each year might have different organizations we work with, but these are some of our most common groups.”

The students performed a variety of tasks at each institution.

“They all met up at Alcott Elementary, where they read to younger students in the afternoon. We want to teach them this is a way of life, and helping and service has to happen all year around,” said Pohl. “We also had kids acting as classroom helpers and helping certain projects at Alcott in the morning while those at Lighthouse PATH did yard work and yard cleanup, library organization and helping with the storeroom. At Angel’s Place, they readied the houses for winter and decorated the porches and planted flowers that will come up in the spring. …  At Grace Centers of Hope, they made special cookies for the residents, as well as organized and cleaned spaces in the children’s center.”

The institutions said they were happy for the help and were glad to see young people taking an interest in helping others.

“We love having them,” remarked Lori Taylor, the volunteer manager at Lighthouse. “Our Thanksgiving program starts Nov. 9 and runs until the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, so we ask donors to drop off Thanksgiving-type items, and the students help bring the donations in, sorted the items onto various tables, and each item has to be counted so we know exactly how many individuals we can feed and if we need to purchase additional food.”

Taylor said having young people play a part in assisting those in need warmed her heart and made a real difference.

“Our path program houses women with children, and they can stay up to two years, and they pay a portion of their income to get training to help them get back on their feet,” said Taylor. “We’re looking forward to having (the students) again next year. They have a lot of energy, and we need it.”

Pohl said that as much good as she thinks this service project does in the community, she hopes the real benefit is teaching her students that helping others is a lifelong endeavor.

“I always say we receive more than we give. When the kids come back, they immediately want to write to their pen pals at Alcott,” she said. “I think they are freshly moved and motivated, which is what we want. I see a lot of initiative on their part to get deeper involved. I think they learn they don’t have to look for big, grand events.

You can have a positive impact in your own backyard.”