Ms. Garrison is a 8th grade teacher at Shelbyville Middle School in Indiana. “I value service-learning because it is great to teach students the importance of giving back to their community,” said Garrison. “It also helps students feel good about themselves. They feel like a valuable part of the community when they can contribute.” 

A class of 27 students participated in the service-learning project Bake, Take, and Make Connections after learning about community via the Learning to Give lesson What Is a Community? What Makes Our Community Unique? The class made cookies and wrote encouraging letters to be delivered in the community. They made connections with people at the local high school, fire department, nursing home, children's convalescent center, and an elementary school.  

Ms. Garrison’s students played a big part in the baking process. “We used science to change the recipe and I let them decide what variables to manipulate,” said Garrison. “They also decided what local places in our community we would visit. The students made cards too, and I let them decide what message to write in the cards.”  

Throughout the project, the students were learning science and giving. Some of the students are now baking on their own and sharing goodies with others. One student now plans to host a bake sale to raise money for the local animal shelter. The lesson and project blended well with what the students are required to learn. “The students learned a great deal about the science behind baking. They learned what methods work and what needs changed,” said Garrison.  

These student reflections say it all:  

“I learned that I am good at team work. I felt great about this project. The first batch was the worst, but we learned to mix a little more and be less messy.”  

“I learned baking is fun.  The best part was meeting/talking to new people. The bad part was nothing because I had so much fun!” 

“I learned that you can do stuff for the community. Best part was making the cookies.”

“I learned that the smallest change will go a long way in baking and the community. I felt very good about it. The best part is making and giving the cookies. I wouldn’t want to make any changes.”  

“I learned how to make cookies which made me feel good because I learned something new.” 

With the support of Learning to Give on this service-project, students felt part of the community.  In actively participating, they saw how easy it is to give back to some of the members of the community that help them every day like firefighters, teachers, and nurses.  They were also able to see the impact they had on others like the elementary students and patients at the nursing homes and children’s center.  This work gave them a true sense of their role in the community and society.