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Meeting community food needs

Stuart Middle School students come together to address community food security disparities at Henderson Community Church’s food bank.

These days you can find Stuart Middle School students up bright and early at 6 AM every third Saturday of the month, setting up tables, unloading trucks, weighing and arranging food on the tables, greeting guests, and helping guests carry food to their cars outside of the Henderson Community Church. young girl standing behind a table full of food

These students are all members of a student club called “Stuart Service Corps,” a group started by social studies teacher David Lhuillier in May 2021 in an effort to have students collaborate with local organizations in need. This community service club is open to any Stuart student.

When Mr. Lhuillier’s colleague, Marissa Mink, put him in touch with Donna Johnson at Henderson Community Church to help with their food bank, Mr. Lhuillier and his students jumped at the opportunity to serve their community. 

As a result of volunteering for the food bank, students learned how to work well in a team, provide excellent customer service, how to ensure food safety, and do the math involved in weighing food items and logging information on a balance sheet. Most importantly, they learned how to treat those who live in their community who may be experiencing food insecurity with empathy and compassion. people collecting food at a table

As students volunteered at the church’s food bank every month, they felt the intrinsic rewards of serving others, so much so that they brought their parents, grandparents and friends to volunteer as well. 

The students’ parents have supported this service mission and committed to transporting their students, even on days when the temperature outside was just 9 degrees at 6 a.m. on a Saturday. Most parents also joined the effort by serving as project chaperones.

Each weekend, the Stuart Service Corps came together, and served up to 60 families. One of their most notable accomplishments was delivering 6,000 pounds of food to families in November 2021. 

At the end of each four-hour volunteer session, Mr. Lhuillier brings his students together in a circle and they all put their hands together in the center and chant, “Raptors RISE! RISE Up!” This is not only a Stuart student tradition chanted at many events, but it is a celebration of their hard work for the day and how they exemplified the values of Respect, Integrity, School Spirit and Empathy (RISE) in their volunteer work. group of girls looking at food bags on a table

Although Stuart Service Corps members receive certificates indicating their completed community service hours, students do not receive any school credit or compensation. Mr. Lhuillier’s hope is to have these students come back to mentor younger students even after they move on to high school so they can earn community service credit towards their graduation requirements. 

The Stuart Service Corps will continue to volunteer at the Henderson Community Church food bank until May 2022 and start again the following September. They also plan to participate in other community-based projects in collaboration with other local organizations.

The Stuart Service Corps and their commitment to address disparities in their community is just one more #ReasontoBelieve. #IBelievein27JSchools