Day of Service Helps Middle Schoolers Change Their World

  • Voices
Day of Service Helps Middle Schoolers Change Their World
Nicole Brown, Associate Head of Middle School

In contributing to service on behalf of area nonprofits, students get hands-on experience in making a difference.

The Middle School continues to focus on weaving Lead From Here into our daily experiences and interactions with one another as we seek to Lead Self, Lead with Others, and Change our World. Through the efforts of our community on Oct. 13, our Day of Service, students turned words into action. 

Food Bank presentations and Fall Food Drive

In order to emphasize service learning, we began our afternoon by hearing from Michael Hooker, the community donations coordinator for the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina. He shared information about the support that the Food Bank is able to offer families facing food insecurity in our own communities. Because of the generous donations our students, families and employees make each year during our Food Drive, hundreds of meals are made available to families facing challenging circumstances. Students were encouraged to continue to Change Our World through their service to others.

Following Mr. Hooker’s presentation, Middle School Student Government launched our Food Drive. Co-presidents Xaden Wilson ’26 and Neil Awasthi ’26 announced that donations will be gratefully accepted in the Middle School throughout October and November. 

Hands-on projects

Collage of Middle School students making blankets and cat treats

At top, sixth-grade students make blankets for Project Linus; at bottom, seventh-graders make treats for cats at Safe Haven.

Energized and inspired by what we heard from Mr. Hooker, we turned our attention to hands-on projects students created in support of three specific organizations: Project Linus, Safe Haven for Cats and the Refugee Center. 

The sixth grade heard from Susie Holmes, the founder of Project Linus. She shared that, since the nonprofit’s founding in 1996, more 50,000 blankets have been delivered to many local groups and agencies that help seriously ill or traumatized children who benefit from the warmth and comfort a blanket provides. Sixth-grade students then measured, cut, and tied 24 fleece blankets that will be donated to children at local hospitals. 

Seventh-graders took a virtual tour of Safe Haven for Cats and learned about their spay and neuter clinic as well as care and adoption efforts at this no-kill shelter. Students made cat toys, cat treats and books that can be used in their “Words and Whiskers” program, an event hosted each week during which children between the ages of 5 and 10 read to and play with the cats at Safe Haven. 

Omar Khan ’28 said, “I enjoyed the service day, and I had a lot of fun working with my classmates to help the cats at Safe Haven for a good cause. I felt happy to help the cats by making treats and toys for them. I had a lot of fun with my classmates, too.”

The eighth grade focused their efforts on behalf of The Refugee Support Center, an organization that helps facilitate the transition of refugees to a new life in North Carolina by providing services, helping them access resources and developing their skills to promote self-sufficiency. After hearing from a representative from RSC, the eighth-graders created welcome kits including essential personal care items and a welcome note.

“It was amazing to see eighth-grade students choosing items so carefully as they imagined the specific person who might receive the welcome kit. They chose toiletries they thought that person might like. For example, one student imagined a little girl and picked out colors and toiletries with her in mind,” Middle School counselor Merritt Cole said. “It was also great to see the thoughtfully written notes welcoming their recipient to our community and to have students asking to make extra welcome kits.” 

Collage shows students making welcome kits and posing together outside

At top, eighth-graders make and display welcome kits for refugees new to the area; at bottom, the student body poses at the end of the day.

In the Middle School, we challenge students to work toward a goal, to set the highest standards for themselves and to dream big and take action. On our Day of Service, it was heartwarming to see all of our students lean into a collaborative effort to Change Our World through meaningful service. Their efforts will impact the lives of others, but our experience together has also helped us to exercise empathy and to live out the words of Mahatma Gandhi when he said, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”