With excitement, smiles, and anticipation more 105 students and their teachers from the Sligo Adventist School in Takoma Park, MD headed out into the surrounding neighborhood to invite area residents to contribute to their annual Fall Food Drive. Students in Grade 4 through 8, divided into groups, and set out into the community, with more than 300 empty brown paper bags and maps in hand.
The days leading up to this event were also filled with excitement as notes of cheer, and invitations to the Christmas program, were diligently stapled to each bag. Students knocked and rang door bells, hoping to make contact with residents who would simply consider donating to those less fortunate. When there was not a response at the door, bags were left on the step and volunteers moved on to the next home or building. It is always amazing to observe students as they tried to outdo each other in seeing who can distribute the most bags in the time allotted.
The reality is that, not all the interactions or responses are welcoming, but students are rarely deterred as they move to the next door brimming with hope for a better outcome. Bradley Marshall and Stefan Laurry, students from eight grade shared, “People are not always kind or happy to see you, it’s almost as if they don’t care.” These are important realities that our students must understand about the world we live in today, as we mentor them in an appropriate response that reflects the heart of God, and attitude that encourages them to not be deterred.
A few days later, we return to the community, this time to reap the harvest of the bags distributed. Students were literally running from door to door, hopping over hedges, without a care in the frigid air and were excited when bags were left at doors, over flowing with canned and dried goods. Parents also partnered with us by assisting with the collection process. This year we received just over 83 bags, which is about our annual average. Our school family will typically support this effort with their own contributions.
As I am writing this, the phone rings and a few homes that we missed are calling and it’s time to return for those bags. One resident, Mr. Mike Jenkins shared that he attended SAS as a first grader in 1958 and feels that this activity is so relevant for kids today as they “learn to be compassionate towards others.” For a number of students, participating in this SAS sponsored activity was a new experience, having only joined Sligo just a few months prior. One such student was Emmanuel Vidal, a sixth grader who shared, “I liked this, it was different.”
Food bags are shared with the Sligo Adventist Church and Adventist Community Services, which continues to meet the community’s needs through various ventures, including its food pantry and clothing distribution. This activity which is now an entrenched part of the school’s service projects, seeks to expose students to the surrounding community in an effort that brings rich rewards to those among us who benefit from the food donations. Students also get to share the Jesus that stirs within them, while promoting SAS as a place that seeks to partner with parents in “Growing Great Kids.”
-David Turner, Vice Principal, Sligo Adventist School