by Erin Albanese, School News Network at Kent ISD
Kelloggsville Public Schools, MI — After an hour-long Monday afternoon session volunteering at The Family Network of Wyoming, eighth-graders Wesley Sheller and Gregory Brink got a request from food pantry staff members.
Come more often, they said. Because students from the Kelloggsville Regional Center work so efficiently, Family Network staff members hoped they could start volunteering up to three times a week.
Gregory and Wesley had just been working nonstop stocking toilet paper and bagging potatoes. The food and items will go to the approximately 120 families who use the pantry each week.
“We love them to come. We always have something for them to do and they are good workers,” said pantry coordinator Sheryl Haveman.
The Kelloggsville Regional Center, 977 44th St. SW, is located just a couple buildings away from Family Network, 1029 44th St. SW. The center houses the kindergarten through eighth-grade emotionally impaired program and serves multiple school districts,including Byron Center, Godfrey-Lee, Godwin Heights, Grandville, Kelloggsville and Wyoming.
Teacher Kellie Phillips said two students are chosen to volunteer each week based on good behavior. The opportunity has become an incentive for students who like to walk over from school and lend a hand. Often Wesley, Gregory and eighth-grader Raven Cowles earn the privilege, she said.
“It’s just good for them to get out in the community and helping. It’s good for their self-esteem. They love coming,” Phillips said.
It also helps them learn how to work in a real volunteer job, she said.
The Family Network gets some of its produce from the Kelloggsville Community Garden, located outside of the Regional Center. The garden will be planted this spring for another year’s harvest. Students work to maintain the vegetables, planting, sowing and weeding the raised garden beds.
Gregory and Wesley said they like the opportunity to spend time at the pantry. Their favorite task is stocking the produce.
“I can help people and help things get done around here,” Gregory said.