“The greatness of a community is most accurately measured by the compassionate actions of its members.” —Coretta Scott King

  Last week I had the pleasure of tagging along with middle-schoolers from Christian Fellowship School who were out in the community, working.

  I started with 6th graders who were putting to use every ounce of elbow grease they could muster to make the walls, doors and windows shine at the humane society. The next bunch I visited had sawdust on their feet and hands from constructing a Blessing Box they’ll stuff with food and toiletry items on campus for those who need a little extra help outside the hours of operation of the church’s food pantry.

  During my visit on the construction site, I spoke with a parent who had accompanied the students earlier in the day as they shopped for items to stuff inside the Blessing Box, which they hoped would get them through at least a few months. She said it’s not a project that’s a one-time thing, it’s something that keeps going because that same group of kids will be checking on the box daily to make sure it’s stocked.

  She talked about the experience the kids had while roaming the aisles of stores, calculating what they could purchase with the available funds and trying to stretch each dollar as far as it would go. They also had to think about families that might have different needs from their own and how to provide the most variety possible to serve those needs. She said they had to consider items that accompanied each other, like providing a can of tuna to go with the tuna helper so it was a complete meal. And they started getting an understanding of how much it costs to feed a family.

  After all that, she said, the kids were standing in line with their items and another customer in the store started asking what they were up to and when they told her, she began to weep. She said the customer told them she had been in a tough spot—a spot tough enough that she had sought assistance from food pantries and grocery boxes similar in design to their Blessing Box. She said the customer told the kids their project truly was a blessing for people who are in need just as much of kindness as they are of food.

  The experience wasn’t mine but the tears in the mom’s eyes as she told me of the experience made me feel as if I had been there and I could literally feel my heart soften thinking about the circle of kindness they all shared in that moment. I thought about it for the remainder of the afternoon and several days following and I know the entire day’s experience touched me for more than one reason.

  As I was watching the kids scrub walls and hug dogs and take as much part in sawing wood and marking drill holes as they could, I was proud to see a school prioritizing community involvement and community investment. Parents talk about hoping our kids turn out to be good and decent citizens who contribute to society and give back when they have more than enough—CFS is doing it. For 13 years now their educators and parents and staff have been leading by example. They are actively teaching their students how to be good and decent citizens who contribute to society and they’re showing them a variety of ways to get it done. Well done.

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