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UCS shows its charitable spirit

By: Eric Czarnik | Sterling Heights Sentry | Published December 23, 2015

 Burr Elementary students hold bags of food that were donated in order to feed the hungry.

Burr Elementary students hold bags of food that were donated in order to feed the hungry.

Photo by Erin Sanchez

Charity starts in the community at Utica Community Schools this holiday season as students offer their gifts of resources, time and services, according to school officials.

UCS spokesman Tim McAvoy said the school district’s students have planned to participate in more than 200 charitable activities during the holiday season. Examples include caroling at local senior centers, setting up hat-and-mitten trees on which they hang donated winter clothing, stocking up food banks and assisting the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation.

Stevenson High School senior Paul Hanges, student council president and an active member on the principal’s advisory board, said students at his school served the homeless the week before Christmas in coordination with MCREST, the Macomb County Rotating Emergency Shelter Team. Students also adopted a local Stevenson family, held a hat and mitten drive, and collected canned food donations, he said.

Hanges said Stevenson students committed to helping elementary schools run their Winter Blast fun activity events. Although some of the high school’s charitable plans are still underway or have yet to be started, he said they show what the school represents and how it gives back and does what it can.

“I think it really builds character for each student and each club,” he said. “It really kind of hits home. … It just gives them a sense of pride and definitely a good holiday cheer feeling.”

Bill Kellstrom, who runs Community Christian Church’s food pantry in Sterling Heights, said students from Burr Elementary School have so far collected 18 cases of canned goods to help feed the hungry. While the school has held similar food drives in the past, this year’s drop-off is “significantly more than the previous year,” he said.

“There’s actually more coming for the balance of this week,” he added.

Not only has the pre-Christmas delivery been a bountiful one, but the timing was impeccable too, Kellstrom said.

“We went over to Burr Elementary School this morning,” he said Dec. 16. “Our food pantry was pretty much empty. About 175 families last week alone used up 90 percent of all the food we had in our food pantry.

“We are blessed beyond measure. And (the students) are not even done yet.”

Learn more about Utica Community Schools by visiting or by calling (586) 797-1000. Find out more about Community Christian Church in Sterling Heights by visiting or by calling (586) 323-1730.