Students' helping hands reach out to community

October 31, 2008

Imagine 1,200 people volunteering 3,000 hours to help with nonprofit community organizations over a three-day period. That's exactly what happened at Hopkins West Junior High in October.

Helping Hands community service project

All students at the school participate in the Helping Hands community service project. The goal of this school-wide project was to provide opportunities for young people to make a difference in their community, and to allow them to experience the sense of satisfaction that comes by serving others.

Tapping the altruism of our youth

"In this era of immediate gratification and indulgence, it is imperative that we tap into the altruism of our youth allowing them to experience a sense of satisfaction and an ability to make a difference by serving others," said Terry Wolfson, Hopkins West Junior High principal.

Working with nonprofit organizations

Each homeroom at the school was assigned to a nonprofit organization. Some of the service projects included cleaning gently worn shoes for Share Your Soles, doing fall raking and yard work for Minnetonka parks and Minnetonka Senior HOME, making cards for Give2theTroops, packing food for Feed My Starving Children, making fleece blankets for the Humane Society, helping at the Intercongregation Communities Association food shelf, and others.

Making a difference

Did the students make a difference? One letter of heartfelt thanks illustrates how much they touched others.

This long-time resident now lives alone with her dog. Her children attended Hopkins West Junior High and, as adults, now have their own lives. Her husband died a few years ago. She loves the trees in her yard and neighborhood, but finds the task of raking the fallen leaves overwhelming. "And then you arrived with your swarm of 9th graders. . . . They moved quickly and in about a half hour the leaves covering the grass were gone. So you think that your kids raked my leaves? Of course, they did that, but they also did so much more. In this day when there is so much negativism, they re-awakened a hope in me that the positive will win. Please . . . forward my sincere wish that each and every one of them grows to be a contributing member of our society . . . ."

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