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Published: Tuesday, 11/20/2012

Springfield students organize to help others

BY FEDERICO MARTINEZ
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Rachel Helminiak, right, a senior at Springfield High School, helps untangle a strand of lights with her fellow volunteers of Students in Action at Luthern Village in Holland. Rachel Helminiak, right, a senior at Springfield High School, helps untangle a strand of lights with her fellow volunteers of Students in Action at Luthern Village in Holland.
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A day-off school usually means an opportunity to sleep in for many high school students.

But more than 100 students at Springfield High School recently used a day off to do community volunteer work.Their classes were canceled Nov. 14 for a teacher in-service day.

Their efforts are part of Students In Action, a student-led initiative that encourages  community service - not because they earn money or school credit, but because they want to better their community.

During their recent day off, some students volunteered to set up Christmas trees and holiday decorations at a local nursing home. Other students returned to the high school where they continued sewing and wrapping pillow cases for youth cancer patients.

"I have a grandmother in a nursing home, but she lives far away," said junior Kurt Metz, explaining why opted to volunteer at Lutheran Village at Wolf Creek."Helping out here makes me feel closer to her."

Springfield is one of 13 schools across the United States that operates a Students In Action group, said Kristina White, director of Community Impact of Leadership Toledo. Mrs. White oversees the Toledo area program.

"Our main objective is to help out in the community," said student Azaree Whitehead, one of the leaders of the Springfield Students In Action group. Ms. Whitehead is senior at the school.

Lutheran Village residents look forward to the student's visits, said Sue Boyne, who serves as director of marketing for the facility.

"The students help out in the garden and plant flowers in the spring," said Ms. Boyne. "It makes the residents happy."

A handful of Springfield student leaders launched the school's group about four years ago, said Ms. Whitehead. All students are welcome to participate.

Nearly a quarter of the 1,200 students enrolled at Springfield High School have volunteered for community work already this year, students said.

The group's goal is to complete a combined 15,000 hours of community service this school year, said Ms. Whitehead. Students completed 13,450 hours of community service during the 2011-12 school year.

Junior Tai Hofmann said his motive for volunteering in the past was to meet the school's community service requirement. Each student is required to perform five service hours each school  year.

But this fall Mr. Hofmann realized something - he actually enjoys helping others.

"I never thought I would do something like this,"admitted Mr. Hofmann, as he helped wrap lights around a Christmas tree at Lutheran Village. "But it's pretty fun to hang out with friends and help people."

The students efforts were appreciated by many of the residents at Lutheran Village.

Watching students construct the artificial Christmas trees brought back fond memories of Christmases past for residents Ray Taylor and Viola Fabian.

"It's wonderful," said Ms. Fabian. "This is a good place for them to be."

Contact Federico Martinez at: fmartinez@theblade.com or 419-724-6065



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