It is often hard to tell who receives the larger benefit when Mountain View Elementary Students perform acts of community service. From the smiles on the faces of senior citizens when our students teamed up with Hilcorp to serve them Thanksgiving Dinner to the supplies the Kenai Animal Shelter was able to buy from the money raised by our Kindergarten’s Pennies for Pets fundraiser the benefits to those our student serve are tangible. What may be less visible but equally as important are the benefits our student receive from their efforts.
That “feel good” experience from helping others goes deeper and last longer than just while the students engage in service activities. Researchers have shown that community service provides students with a feeling of social connectedness, of being a contributing member of a community, which in turn leads to a “desire to cooperate and be involved in positive ways” (Smith 1999). As our school builds a sense of community through service projects our students gain a sense of self-esteem based on being a contributing member. This increase in positive feelings extends into the classroom where positive social interactions promote increased learning.
Mountain View Elementary’s goal for the year is to have 150 students participate in community service projects outside of the school and to have our students participate in 6 site-based community service projects. These numbers are approximately 25% higher than last year. A new project this year begun by our 3rd grade, will be working with Central Peninsula Hospital to create gift bags of baby essentials and clothing for new parents to take home. We will continue our relationships with the Kenai Senior Center, the City of Kenai, local veterans, local businesses and are seeking other opportunities.
If you have an idea for a way to get some of our students out into the community for service projects please contact Karl Kircher, principal, at 283-8600