Service Isn’t Canceled: 5 Ways a School Can Serve During a Pandemic
Though we face new challenges and our methods may be different, we must continue to serve others during this global pandemic. Below are five ways a school can continue to provide missions and service to others during COVID-19.
1. Bring in resources that can be safely distributed by a larger organization.
This past November and December our Landmark Christian School advisory groups organized the purchase of inexpensive hygiene items, clothing, and toys for students to assemble in boxes for children in need. Through Operation Christmas Child, a well-known international organization, these boxes of hope were delivered globally to impoverished children. Our students followed the guidelines for purchasing or donated money for shipping, all contributing as they were able. Virtual students participated by dropping off supplies at the school’s front lobby and then Zoomed in to watch the on-campus packing of the boxes. All told, the middle and high school students packed over 200 boxes, sharing the love and the gospel to children around the world through Operation Christmas Child.
2. Serve the community even if it means foregoing what you, in a non-pandemic year, enjoyed most about the service, remembering the true end game.
One of our school’s most treasured traditions is the delivery of “Thanksgiving Boxes.” In the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving, Landmark families eagerly donate boxes of stuffing, canned goods, and/or money to purchase a turkey. The Christian Life department, working with students, assemble the goods into boxes and purchase turkeys for distribution day. Our school lobby transforms into a warehouse with boxes stacked high! On distribution day, families representing the entire student body load buses and deliver the food to families in need. It warms our hearts to see families truly blessed by our school’s giving.
How it works for us: We have formed a partnership with a neighboring high-poverty elementary school and receive from them the names of students from families in need. This year, instead of collecting goods to distribute as in the past, we pivoted and purchased gift cards to a local grocery store, further helping our neighbors by ensuring the money was spent on groceries sold within the community. Yes, it was disappointing for us not to see the tangible generosity of families in the form of the many piles of boxes stacked high in our lobby, and it was disappointing not to drive to homes and see the warm smiles of those whose lives were touched; however, we actually did more good than in year’s past! Our school raised double the amount of money that translated into double the dinners than typically donated, and therefore our generosity reached more families in a year of greater need. We remind ourselves that even though the giving might have not felt as heartwarming to us, those who were receiving were doubly blessed by our reach in the community--and that was the purpose of the gift, after all.
3. Go to great lengths to make service happen.
Some community service options will be difficult or near impossible to administrate under the pandemic protocol, but with determination and a commitment to extra effort, they can be repackaged for a safe and impactful service project. For example, Campbell Christmas is a hallmark tradition of the Christmas season, especially for high school students at Landmark Christian School. Every year from the generosity of a loving K4-12 school community, Landmark raises funds for purchasing Christmas presents for students in need who attend a neighboring high-poverty elementary school, Campbell Elementary School. Typically, a Christmas shopping spree begins with a bus ride together as each of the guests is paired with one of our own high school students who helps them shop for a wanted toy, in addition to necessities and clothing. But this year, piling on a bus with students from two different schools and dropping them off to shop together at a local megastore was not an option. Therefore, administration from the local elementary school sat with each child selected and helped them compose a Christmas wish list of fun and needed items; then, Landmark Christian School Dean of Student Life, Shannon Sheffield, took that list and made it viewable by gender and age and available to the K4-12th grade Landmark community to sign up to purchase and wrap approximately $100 worth of gifts for a child who might not otherwise have presents at all. To accomplish this, Ms. Sheffield and the Campbell administration organized wish lists, collection, labeling, and distribution of the gifts, which amount to hundreds of wrapped presents requiring delivery. Maybe we should call our dear Ms. Sheffield, ‘Ms. Claus!’ The success of the Campbell Christmas project demonstrates that the most cherished ways of blessing the community can be retained, but may require great amounts of time and (re)organization from many. Thank you to those who fulfilled Christmas wish lists for these children!
4. Turn school project-learning into service projects.
Hearing about the mission of Campbell Christmas and the blessing of others, the Landmark engineering classes wanted to contribute towards the cause, too. Using high-tech tools, they designed and created a series of quality Christmas ornaments for purchase to the Landmark community, with all funds from the sales donated to fulfilling the Campbell children’s wish lists. Landmark engineering students used their class time and skills acquired over the semester to make each ornament as ordered and raise money for a good cause. Within the first hour of being “open for business,” the engineering classes raised enough money to sponsor two children’s wish lists for Campbell Christmas!
5. Get outside, socially distance, and make a difference.
One of the opportunities our students have to serve at Landmark Christian School is by participating in our school clean-up day. A section of Landmark property has been identified to be transformed into usable outdoor community space and team-building courses area. The first step towards this transformation is the service of our own school community in removing debris from the lot. This area will be available for all ages to use, K4-12th grades, but will be especially key in providing our middle and high school advisories an outdoor space for leadership and collaboration exercises. We are inviting all families to help clean up the lot from 9:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m. on Saturday, January 23. Watch the weekly video announcements and The Educated Eagle for more information as we are closer to the date!