Dozens of youngsters enrolled in a Glen Oaks elementary after-school program learned the meaning of community service last week in more ways than one.
The students, ranging from kindergartners to fifth-graders, gathered in the auditorium of PS 115, at 80-51 261st St., with a number of Americorps members who help plan their activities.
And with money the youths raised from a bake sale and ticket proceeds from a school dance, they were preparing to present a $1,000 check to representatives of Services for the UnderServed, an organization that helps New Yorkers who are less fortunate. The money the children raised will go to the organization’s program to support veterans.
“It really touches an old man’s heart,” Howard Wheeler, program director for SUS’s Homeless Veterans Program, told the youngsters. “It means so much to us that you all, as young as you are, have the mind to think about someone other than yourself, to think about those who are less fortunate.”
Wheeler is a veteran himself, having served 22 years in the U.S. military.
Nicole Robinson, SUS’s service coordinator for Supportive Services for Veteran Families and also a staff sergeant in the U.S. Army Reserves, also praised the students.
“You guys are future soldiers for change,” she said.
The two veterans posed with the students and their program leaders, as the children smiled and waved flags and vied for a chance to wear a military helmet.
But learning about how their efforts would go to help veterans in need was not the youths’ only lesson in volunteerism last Friday. The Americorps leaders also strived to teach their students the literal meaning of community service.
“What does volunteering mean to you?” one of the leaders asked the children.
“To give someone food,” one student offered.
“To help people,” another said.
“Nice. That’s what I’m talking about,” the leader said.
The Americorps leaders have been teaching the students the meaning of community service for the last three months, putting together the bake sale and a winter dance where all members of the Floral Park community were invited to the festivities.
Michelle Ragoo, the Americorps members’ supervisor, said she was proud of the leaders for their generosity.
“They are truly great role models to our after-school students and possess great leadership in reaching out to members of our community as they strive to make a difference in helping others,” she said.
Reach reporter Karen Frantz by e-mail at kfrantz@cn
©2013 Community News Group
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