Community service

Community service

by Julie Hollifield.
11th grade, Owen High School

Last semester, my English class participated in a community service project. We were writing persuasive essays on environmental issues. This led us to want to get involved in helping our local environment. We took a field trip to the Dr. John Wilson Community Garden here in Black Mountain. My class of about 25 students spent the morning helping to give young trees a healthy start. It was very fulfilling to get out of the classroom, into the community, and give back to nature. It felt good to cooperate with my classmates in a hands-on way. I enjoyed donating some of my time to a good cause in our local community.

Giving back

by Amaya Kinch
Fifth-eighth grade
The Learning Community School

Most of them cannot even understand what we are reading and singing, but you can feel their joy in the steadiness of the fragile, wrinkly hands, and in the veins pulsing underneath the papery skin. You can see it in their faces. Most schools would never dream of giving their students such an amazing opportunity to make an impact on an elderly community, but [The Learning Community School] does. I got to give back in honor of MLK Jr., and I gave back to the Highland Farms Retirement Community elders.

You feel like an anomaly walking through the glass front door; the way it glided open without any of us lifting a finger, just a gust of wind blowing it open. As we stepped into the main lobby, nurses walking by in their scrubs saw us and stopped with their eyes propped open, as if to take in the scene as well as they could, faces glowing. To me, we were just a group of school kids, but to them we were so much more. We should have been played in slow motion, bombs going off silently in the background like in a dramatic movie, only the distant sounds of our tennis shoes stepping heel toe, heel toe.

I had been expecting to have a few minutes to tune up my guitar, and rehearse my prepared poem a couple of times. The Highland Farms Retirement Community administrators had other plans for us.

We walked into the quaint room closed off by a wooden sliding accordion wall, and I was overwhelmed by a warming sensation radiating out from a room full of elders surrounded by wheelchairs, walkers, canes, and oxygen tanks. They were ready and waiting, the no-nonsense type. Some of our group looked mildly frightened at first, but none of us could help but smile as the grandmas and grandpas began to applaud for us as we simply walked. We were caught pleasantly off guard.

I step out onto the short-trimmed carpet, and sterilized air floods my nose. I feel pressure to represent my school properly and to signify the importance of this day. A subconscious rhythm approaches within my poem. Each word following another like footsteps on a hill. The rest of my time went by like a blur. Colors and sounds blending together in a fog. 

I made a difference in someone’s day — and my own — by doing two things: educating them, but most importantly getting to meet each person in that room and hear their stories I as talked genuinely with them. It went by so fast, too fast. The doors blew open, and before I could get my guitar chords straight, we were loading up on the bus and driving away. Highland Farms only a memory from the past.

This little light

by Ella Carlinnia
The Learning Community School
fifth grade

The great thing about my school is on Martin Luther King Jr. Day we go out to do service! Some groups go around cleaning up the streets of Asheville, others help out at Brother Wolf, Full Moon Farms and many other organizations. My group went to the Asheville Health Center. We read clips of speeches by Martin Luther King Jr. I read “I’ve Been to the Mountaintop,” his final speech. We sang “This Little Light of Mine,” and a lot of [health center residents] sang along! We played guitar and violin for everyone, and they loved it. Afterward, we got to visit with the residents.

At first I was pretty nervous because I didn’t know what to say, but everyone was so kind. One woman told me I had the voice of an angel, and a man sang for me! An older woman in a wheelchair hugged and kissed me, but she couldn’t talk much. All I could understand was, “Thank you,” and “I love you.” My school tries to put a little light into everyone’s life on MLK day. Our goal is to improve our community one step at a time.

Making a difference

by Nick Murphy
The Learning Community School
sixth grade

Think about being a kid that sits around playing video games on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. MLK went through lots of trouble for the rights of African Americans. So, let’s get our butts off the couch and go do some service projects in his honor. I have always liked doing service projects and always will. I want other schools to do community service projects because it’s fun and because it can be with your friends.

The community service projects I have done have been for a reason. I have gone to Brother Wolf and helped walk the dogs and made treats for them. I went to downtown Asheville and cleaned up the littered roads and parks. I have also planted stunning blueberry plants at the edible park downtown where people go pick fresh food for free. This year I went to my friend’s house, and we walked around the neighborhood collecting money and canned food for MANNA FoodBank [which] makes 29,000 meals almost every day, and my money and canned food helped them achieve that. Every time I did a community service project I feel like I have made a difference.

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