“Contributing to our global community with creativity and compassion” is part of the mission statement of the North Bellmore School District, and sixth graders at Martin Avenue Elementary School are looking to accomplish just that.
They’ll probably start small with some volunteer work at home or in their local community, but it will hopefully set the stage for a lifetime of charitable endeavors. Students in Rachel Graber’s and Stephanie Speciale’s classes are each being tasked with completing 10 hours of community service this year.
The discussions first began on Sept. 11, which has been designated a National Day of Service and Remembrance. Students were encouraged to do a helpful act after school that day. The following morning, the two classes gathered together to learn more about community service opportunities to complete the 10 hours.
Sixth graders were presented with many ideas, such as helping a younger sibling with homework, shoveling snow for a neighbor this winter, participating in a local fundraiser walk or organizing a clothing or food drive. They learned how to earn community service hours through the teen room at the North Bellmore Public Library. At school, they could get involved in service clubs such as Student Council or Students Against Destructive Decisions.
Ms. Graber and Ms. Speciale said it counts as community service if they’re not paid, and they're not told to do it. Community service for Martin Avenue sixth graders is a longstanding tradition and helps prepare them for middle school and high school, where service hours are required.
Leahna Graziano said there are lots of ideas for community service. After helping out at a summer camp, she is considering working with children to complete her hours.
“I think it will help us in the long term,” sixth grader Summer Ferrie said. “It makes you better people when you do kind things.”
“I just like to help out the community,” added Mason Torres.
Ms. Graber and Ms. Speciale said that students are welcome to go beyond the 10 hours, and have had sixth graders in the past who have exceeded 300 hours of community service in a year.