ELKHART — From cleaning out transport vans to sorting clothes, more than 300 freshmen at Concord High School took the time to give back to the community on Wednesday.

The teens participated in the school’s annual Service Day event, which took place at several locations throughout Elkhart County, including Council on Aging, Faith Mission Thrift Store, Feed the Children, Elkhart County Humane Society and other local agencies.

Activities spanned from cleaning up public areas and yard work to sorting donations and loading tables.

Concord High School assistant principal Coco Howard, coordinator of the event, said each year the school advertises on its website or makes calls to local agencies to see if there’s any work they need help with that the students volunteer for.

“The purpose is for the students to get a taste of what it’s like to volunteer by helping others and to take pride in their community,” she said.

Over a dozen students visited the Council on Aging of Elkhart County, a nonprofit organization devoted to bringing resources together that enable seniors to live independently in their own homes as they age. 

At Council on Aging, the students were tasked with cleaning the inside of three vans the agency uses to transport area seniors to personal care services.

David Toney, CEO of Council on Aging, said he appreciated the students lending a helping hand and said they were doing a great job. 

“As we’re moving to the colder season, these vans get really dirty, and these kids are really helping us because normally it would cost us about $20 a week on each van, and we have a total of nine vans and two buses, so it gets expensive,” Toney said. “These kids are intergenerational because they’re helping their grandparents or great-grandparents.”

The students said they liked that they were creating a cleaner environment for senior citizens.

“It’s important that our seniors get to where they need to go and they should have clean vehicles for transportation,” she said.

Over at Faith Mission Thrift Store, about 30 students spent two hours sorting donated items the store received.

Nathan Schoenherr, a student, helped by hanging clothes on the rack and said he enjoys volunteering because it’s rewarding. 

“It always makes me good when I’m helping out the community,” he said. “Giving back is a passion and it’s great to help (organizations) that spend every day doing this.”

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