Second grade teachers from Pine Ridge Elementary School joined together to help their students with a powerful service-learning project.

Ms. Messner said, “Service-Learning gives students a whole different kind of educational experience. It allows them to think of someone other than themselves.” Ms. Roberts said, "We live and work in a rather affluent area. I want the students to understand that it is a blessing to give/serve others, not just receive." Ms. Krieger said, "I think it's important to teach kids to give to those in need, especially in an affluent district." Mr. Kornoely said, "We like to teach the whole child which includes character building and academics." 

About 100 second grade students from Pine Ridge Elementary School participated in their first Learning to Give supported project coined KidsGiving with Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital. After an introduction from LTG Ambassador Trainer Lea Sevigny, and an application for a $50 mini-grant gift card per class, the second grade teaching team incorporated the lesson Kids Can Make the Difference. Through the lesson, students learned about how they have the power to make a difference in the lives of others.

All of the students worked together to decorate and fill gift bags for the kids staying at the local children’s hospital. The bags contained a small craft, stickers, markers, glow sticks, and a note of encouragement. The students decorated each bag and were given the responsibility of deciding what to include in each bag and how to stay on budget.

"Academically the project required listening and reading skills as well as working in small groups successfully," explained Ms. Roberts. "Following directions, both oral and written was a key component. I believe the students tried to do their best, understanding that this was for children who were sick and it might give them some joy."

A few of her students reflected: “This was fun", “I helped other people", "I want to make this bag look really colorful to make the person happy", "I was careful to put everything in the bag so the one getting this would really like it", and “I want to do this again!”  

In their school, students are tasked with participating in service-learning projects 4-6 times each year. In the past, Pine Ridge Elementary School students have made cards and decorations for elderly homes, collected school supplies and personal care items for Foster Children, cleaned up the school, made banners for the school, etc. 

“It was really great to see how the students were able to see just how much, and how little, $50 really is for supplies and materials needed to complete a project,” said Ms. Messner.