This article was originally published in the summer 2012 Harker Quarterly.
Students Bring Flair to Service Efforts Grade 10 Students Help Clients of InnVision Shelter
About 60 students from grade 10 spent a day in mid-February serving the clients of InnVision, a homeless shelter in San Jose. Sign-ups for this event started as a trickle a few weeks prior, but quickly gained momentum. With the sign-ups came a generous flow of donations, in cash and kind, and several parents stepped up to volunteer their time and make the event memorable for the folks at InnVision.
The students sorted toys and clothes, cleaned hallways and bathrooms, did gardening and neighborhood cleanup, and came together to cook a sumptuous meal for about 50 of InnVision’s clients. Victor Adler, teacher and sophomore class dean, was there to lend a helping hand with his students.
Following a brief introduction and tour of the shelter by InnVision staff, the students were divided into groups of 10. Each group spent the rest of the day rotating from one activity to another, including weeding the garden, cutting fruits and vegetables for lunch, mopping hallways or sorting toys.
The students displayed their creativity in setting and decorating the lunch tables, then donned aprons and gloves to serve soup, garlic bread, chow mein, naan and Indian curry, a tri-tip beef entrée, followed by cake and fruit salad for dessert.
“The warm day meant hard work both indoors and outdoors, but the sophomores did it all with a smile on their lips and a sparkle in their eyes, knowing that their efforts were making it a day to remember for those less fortunate than themselves,” said Naren Nayak (Avinash, grade 10), one of many parents who helped prepare the lunch and supervise the student activities.
The unspent portion of the donations collected for food totaled $861 and was donated to InnVision. Erika Sutton, InnVision’s volunteer coordinator, said, “Our sincere thanks to members of The Harker School’s 10th grade class who held a very productive service day at InnVision Georgia Travis Center, a daytime dropin center for homeless and at-risk women and children.”
Students were busily involved in a variety of projects including sorting through clothing donations, planting flowers, reorganizing a classroom and art room, and cleaning the center’s great room. A very special thank you goes to Nayak, who coordinated the entire effort, including engaging other parents to volunteer.
Jaynie Neveras, community relations manager for InnVision, was very appreciative. “How wonderful that these compassionate sophomore students would make time during their break to volunteer and give back to the community!” she said.
“They were able to see firsthand that due to the economy, the face of homelessness has changed forever. Even once comfortably established families are now in need. And whether the students planted flowers, sorted donations, or prepared and served up a tantalizing lunch, they truly made a difference,” said Neveras. More information about donating to or volunteering at InnVision can be found at www.innvision.org.
Middle School Students Donate Placemats to Senior Center
In March, the middle school’s Service Club organized a project to make placemats for the Alma Senior Center, which serves meals to local seniors unable to buy or prepare meals on their own. Students made a total of about 50 placemats using crayons, markers and other supplies. The placemats will be put to use daily at the center, which serves 50-60 meals each day.
“The project was a pretty simple one, and it enlisted the help not only of the middle school Service Club students, but the efforts of kids throughout the middle school,” said Steven Hewitt, English teacher and the club’s advisor. “Many students even beyond the Service Club itself contributed to the collection drive.”
Annual Toiletries Drive Exceeds Last Year’s
In May, middle school history teacher Pat White announced that her grade 7 advisory’s annual toiletries drive, which collects items that students acquired while on vacation and donates them to the Gloria Travis Center for Women and Children, collected a total of 462 bags of soap, shampoo, toothpaste and other items this year, shattering last year’s number of 322.
Grade 1 Students Organize Donation Drive For Humane Society
Grade 1 students organized a donation drive that provided more than 60 bags filled with food, toys and other supplies to the Humane Society of Silicon Valley in March. More than $300 in cash was also donated. “Several children did small jobs at home to earn money that they then donated,” said Cindy Proctor, grade 1 homeroom teacher. “Children also made sock toys and braided toys and fleece blankets for the cats at the Humane Society.”
The students visited the Humane Society in Milpitas in February, where they learned about the organization and its goals, toured the facility and learned about how to better take care of animals. Later in the year, the students were visited by a representative from the Humane Society, who brought two rescue dogs and taught the students about how to safely approach dogs who aren’t familiar with them and how to understand what dogs are telling them based on their actions.