Students from the Collinsville Christian Academy spent Friday applying what they've learned in the classroom and during chapel: Giving to and helping others.
All of the students, from the kindergartners to seniors, spent their day at five different locations helping to make meals, organize food in a food pantry, spend time with those in assisted living and paint lockers in an outreach center.
The Community Service Day was created by school principal Bob Lane as a way to give the students a chance to practice what they learn in a real-life situation.
"This is the first time we have done this but it will be an annual event," Lane said. "There is an incredible benefit in serving others and being involved in something that is bigger than you."
Students were divided into groups to spend their day helping at the Cedarhurst Assisted Living center in Collinsville, the Collinsville Thrift Store at the Collinsville Presbyterian Church, the State Park Food Pantry at Alpha and Omega Church in State Park, the Good Samaritan Food Center in Washington Park and the Quad City Community Developmental Center in Madison as part of a day of Helping Others.
A group of 20 high school students started their day at the Quad City Community Development Center, where they taped off lockers to receive a new, dark purple coat of paint; they also helped in the food pantry. The students later were joined by about 40 others from the Collinsville Christian Academy.
The center made its debut in August when the former Bernard Long Elementary School came up for sale. It was purchased by the Mt. Nebo Baptist Church with the intent to build a community center that would serve residents of Granite City, Madison, Venice, and Brooklyn with a variety of programs, including a food pantry, a weekly soup kitchen, tutoring, child services and a mentoring program.
Between 200 and 300 children take advantage of the free programs every week, said the center's CEO Juan Conway. Conway is also the pastor at Mt. Nebo.
"This is awesome," Conway said of the volunteers. "They called us and asked if there was anything that needed done and we really appreciate what they are doing."
Lydia Stark, 15, a sophomore at the Collinsville Christian Academy, stretched blue painters tape around the edges of the dark-green lockers in preparation for a coat of dark purple.
"We were looking for projects and our school came up with the Community Service Day," she said. "This is the first time we've done something like this and it's cool. It will be fun."
The students have been talking about and learning that community service, and service to others, helps a person grow.
"You get your mind off yourself, which is a good thing, and you help those who need it so you aren't always just stuck in your own little world," Stark said. "
History and business teacher Randy Roderick supervised the students while helping prep the lockers for paint.
"We talk a lot about helping others during chapel each week," he said. "This is about helping others and being involved in something that is bigger than yourself. I think it's great. Our kids get to feel what it is to serve and we can help this place out."