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Real life lessons learned through giving

SOCIAL CAUSES

Posted: March 30, 2014 2:00 a.m.
Updated: March 30, 2014 2:00 a.m.

SCVi students serve the meal they planned, and raised money for, to visitors at the homeless shelter. Miriam Robles/Courtesy photo

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Santa Clarita Valley International Charter School (SCVi) is a public tuition-free charter school that utilizes Project Based Learning (PBL) as a core instructional method.

Naturally, community service is a familiar activity for our learners, which is why collaborating with our local emergency winter homeless shelter, Bridge to Home, was a perfect fit.

The student’s goal was to experience growth and leadership through planning and providing a meal for the shelter’s supper.

Students met with our school food director, Dawn Walker, to discuss what they would like to bring to the shelter for supper.

Together, they created a plan for a healthy meal that could be easily transported to the shelter - lemon and rosemary grilled chicken breasts, a steamed vegetable medley, brown rice, salad, and chocolate cake for dessert were on the menu.

Students were even thoughtful enough to bring along a grilled tofu entré for the shelter's vegetarian client, a fact they learned while researching how they could best serve the needs of the shelter clients.

Planning the meal may have been the easiest part of the project, as they were still faced with the problem of acquiring the food and supplies needed.

Students also were responsible for covering the cost of paying the school café chef for her extra hours staying late the evening the kids cooked the supper.

In true SCVi fashion the learners spent weeks raising the funds to purchase all the supplies needed to cook supper for 70 people.

One learner even approached supermarket managers to request donations for the supper. Gratefully, our local Ralph’s came through with support.

The kids also supplied other shelter needs, collecting from their peers and families items from the shelter's immediate needs list.

Spending two days after school, their plan came together. One group of kids washed, chopped, marinated, and sorted items Monday.

On Tuesday, another group did all the cooking, grilling and then washing of pans and trays. A third group, coming in later Tuesday, delivered and served the meal.

Ideally from the kids point of view, the best solution would be for the school to provide supper for the shelter clients each of the four months Bridge to Home is in operation. Thereby giving all of the kids a chance to serve in person at the shelter.

Next year SCVi will give the learners room to work toward this goal, with fundraising being the most challenging part. But the school has no doubt the kids are up to the challenge.

That's the wonderful thing about 12-year olds, when something is this important to them, they find a way. These are the kind of driven leadership goals SCVi fosters.

And, nothing speaks louder than the words of the learners.

“I felt happy knowing I contributed to helping others,” said Heeli Lounibos.

Sam Spicher was surprised at how small the shelter is, and was pleased with how easy it was to work there. Annabelle Morrison joined the group part way through the planning process because her friends told her about it, and their excitement inspired her to help as well.

Morelia Robles signed up to help the first day. Morelia, whose family does service projects a few times a year, visited the shelter two years ago when she performed, playing her violin on Christmas day for the clients and staff of the shelter. Since then the shelter has always held a special place in her heart and she was thrilled at the opportunity serve again.

"What I really liked about the way we did this was it becomes just our project,” Morelia said. “A lot when kids are involved on something like this, the grownups take over and do all the work, like buying and cooking the food. Then the kids only show up one night and dish out the food - I like that we did all the work ourselves."

Hailey Spiteri was moved by how many people were there. Hailey admitted the next day that she had been pretty nervous about going to the shelter, at first, but once she was there and got to work, she felt so much more comfortable than she ever imagined. Hailey is now looking for ways she can volunteer at the shelter on a regular basis.

Jon Goertemiller loved learning to cook in the school's café kitchen and was proud that even though there wasn't room for him to go to the shelter in person, his contributions made a difference in other peoples’ lives.

Edvin Kuric, who did the most fundraising and both prepped and served the meal, just wishes he could do more.

SCVi believes in learning through leadership. Determined to create a future of well-rounded citizens, we have opened our curriculum to inspired youth to have an immediate impact on our community.

We know the future is bright when our learners avail themselves of opportunities such as this. SCVi is the place for those who are driven to learn and inspired to lead.

Sara Brown is a part time staff member who inspired these 7th and 8th grade advisory learners to work with our local homeless population.

But it's this group of young leaders that are the ones inspiring her.

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