Fleetwood students volunteered in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day at St. Paul’s Lutheran, Keystone Villa, Fleetwood Middle School, and Greater Berks Food Bank.
At Keystone Villa in Blandon, students participated in a talent show, where many residents attended. They also played games, as well as made Valentine’s Day cards for the residents, who will receive them during a dinner that will be held for them on Valentine’s Day.
Jessica Cammauf, school counselor of Fleetwood Middle School, believes there is a lack of face-to-face interaction in society today, and hopes that the students get to know the residents better. She wants them to know no matter how limited money they may have, they can always give their time.
“It is important for kids to put themselves in another person’s shoes and spend time with them because they are so appreciative,” said Cammauf.
One Fleetwood Middle School student, Brooke Gorman, age 12, said she likes to hang out with the residents of Keystone Villa because she likes to make people happy.
Another student, Lydia Heffner, age 12, said, “I like playing games with them because you can interact and meet people and learn new things. Everyone here is nice, happy, and are really good listeners.”
Both girls, along with many others, participated in the talent show that the students held for the residents.
Linda Paone, a resident of Keystone Villa, said, “It is truly amazing that this many children gave their day off up to come spend time with us.”
Paone said that because these activities were part of the Fleetwood student’s education, she was happy to be a part of it.
At St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, another talent show was hosted by the students followed students and community members coming together to play a variety of games.
Fleetwood Middle School Principal Christopher Redding attended all three events held Monday. He hopes that the interaction between the students and community residents will help to build a relationship between them as well as connect with seniors by asking them personal questions about their lives and to get to know them better.
“You look around, who’s smiling and laughing harder, a 10-year-old kid, or a 90-year-old lady? It’s a day to give back, a day of service, and a day of caring,” Redding said.
Some of the games that were played included Phase 10, Headbands, Sorry!, Uno, Scrabble, and Chess. Redding said that many of the community members who attended the event last year were excited to come back again this year.
Aliyah Tilotta and Ann Costello, both fifth grade students, watched the talent show hosted by students at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, but said they enjoyed playing games with the community members more.
“I like the games better because I get to meet new people,” Ann said.
“It’s really fun and you can definitely take part in it,” Aliyah said.
Sharon Delp, a community member, did not come to the events last year. However, she appreciated the students’ hard work with the talent show, saying that many of the students who participated had great talent. She also enjoyed seeing community members and students get together to play games after the show.
“I think it’s neat. I like to see all the groups coming together and interacting.”
At Fleetwood Middle School, students held a canned food drive, called “Canstruction” and collected about 1,200 pounds of food, which will be donated to people in the community who are in need. Fleece blankets were also made which will be given to a children’s cancer unity.
“I hope they learn it’s better to give than to receive and it’s fun to be altruistic,” said Rako Zech, an 8th grade math teacher, who was in charge of Canstruction.
Also, at the Greater Berks Food Bank, Muhlenberg, a group of students helped organize and pack food items for distribution.
Zech believes that this event will help to show the generosity of the students. He said that Martin Luther King’s most important and persistent in life question is, “What are you doing for others?” By dedicating their time, their resources, and their creativity, he believes they are helping others.
This year, around 200 students participated in the events, which was almost double than the amount that volunteered last year. Each student signed up to whichever program they preferred to participate in. This year, the canned food drive and the talent shows were added to the event list.
Redding said with the support of local businesses financially, interest of the students involvement, and the openness of the community, he believes that next year this event will grow even more.
“We’re always looking at getting better at what we do.”