ELKHART — Central and Memorial high schools launched an initiative Tuesday encouraging students to altogether provide 30,000 hours serving the Elkhart community by May 24.
The presidents from the two schools’ Superintendent’s Student Advisory Councils (SSAC) explained the project after 40 students from the schools volunteered at Church Community Services.
“We’re kicking off something we like to call Service Project X,” said Matt Eppers, Central SSAC president. “We thought there’d be no better way to do that than right around Thanksgiving time to come volunteer at Church Community Services.”
The 30,000 volunteer hours break down to about 9 hours per high school student, Eppers and Memorial SSAC president Chirag Patel explained.
“The main motivation behind this,” Eppers said, “is to try and give back to the community that has given us students and our school system so much and also to highlight what the students in Elkhart are doing, and what a great place the Elkhart community is and what a great school system we have.”
Patel explained that each school has different groups of students organizing service opportunities, communication and keeping students excited and motivated to complete the service hours.
Eppers explained that students don’t need to do formal volunteering at an organization or agency.
“Service is also helping your neighbor rake leaves or plowing snow for someone,” he said. “Anything where you put someone else ahead of yourself is service.”
If the students complete the 30,000 hours by May 24, 2013, the two schools will celebrate by attempting to set a world record for the largest game of Red Rover. Haworth said there is currently not a record for the largest Red Rover game.
He said the school corporation has already contacted Guinness World Records, getting the application process underway. The SSAC chose Red Rover, Haworth said, because it had to be something that could include everybody.
“We’re not looking at it as a contest,” he said. “We’re looking at it as a way to bring the community together ... we have two high schools, but only one community of Elkhart.”
Patel said that with Thanksgiving and Christmas on the way, students will be working to set up programs within the school to help out the community, such as food drives, and also looking for opportunities in the community.
Tuesday, the SSAC students prepared Soup of Success cookie and soup mixes for sale, cleaned up an area outside Church Community Services and helped unload deliveries for the food pantry.
Rod Roberson, executive director of Church Community Services, watched some of the students work. He said he’s excited for all the nonprofits and others that will benefit from the students’ service.
“For the kids to set that example is fantastic,” he said. “We know it’s going to be successful because for them to collaborate like this, that’s how God works.”
Students will have a form to fill out whenever they volunteer, Jodee Shaw, communications coordinator for Elkhart Community Schools, said. When they volunteer, the person they volunteered for, whether someone from an organization or a neighbor, will sign the form saying the student served those hours.