Fox Chapel Area students will perform odd jobs to show service, honor MLK Jr.
Lower Allegheny Valley churches, fire halls and libraries that need odd jobs completed could get free help from Fox Chapel Area High School students in January.
Counselor Rachel Machen is hoping to start a local Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service on Jan. 15, dispatching students across the area to fix, clean, paint and do other small jobs for community groups.
“I'm looking for any type of volunteer opportunities on that day that our students can provide,” said Machen, who is also community outreach sponsor. “It's a way for students to help out, essentially in their own backyards, and feel a sense of pride and satisfaction at giving back.”
The school district encompasses Aspinwall, Blawnox, Fox Chapel, Indiana Township, O'Hara and Sharpsburg.
Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service was founded in 1994 to encourage people to walk in the civil rights leader's footsteps by helping others.
“Dr. King once said, ‘Life's most persistent and urgent question is what are you doing for others?'” Machen said. “We hope students will become more engaged in their community and see how easy it is to give back.”
Shady Side Academy has been participating in MLK Jr. Day of Service for about six years. Typically, more than 150 students and staff scatter across the region for hands-on projects at the VA Hospital in O'Hara, for Meals on Wheels and at HealthSouth Harmarville Rehab.
The work doesn't have to be intensive. Last year, younger students completed kid-friendly projects like filling treat bags and coloring cards for Beverly's Birthdays, a group that provides birthday cheer for homeless children. They also decorated placemats to be delivered with meals to home-bound residents.
Fox Chapel Area student chair of the community outreach committee, Maddie Reuss, said King used his voice and actions to teach people the values of compassion and service. District students are trying to follow his example, Reuss said.
“I am personally looking forward to working in the community and putting it into action, not just talking about it,” she said.
Machen said students will benefit as much as the community groups. Service helps students learn outside the classroom, she said.
“They learn to collaborate, solve problems and improve their communities,” she said.