A vital component of the MICDS Mission is for students to lead “lives of purpose and service,” with an expectation in the eighth-grade year to complete 20 hours of community service. To support students in achieving that expectation, the eighth-grade dean and advisors engaged students in a full day of service at five different St. Louis non-profit locations and on the MICDS campus.
St. Louis Area Foodbank
The Lay/Poucel and Zimmer advisories volunteered at the St. Louis Area Foodbank, an organization committed to increasing access to nutritious food while improving the quality of life for Missouri and Illinois neighbors in need. Students helped package potatoes, carrots, onions, and apples by bagging the produce and gathering the produce bags into larger containers. Middle School Teacher Jean-Jacques Poucel said, “Students spent five hours doing this repetitive work and made it fun by laughing, talking, and even singing. It was a lot of work! But, I was impressed with the students’ capacity to keep working. Their work today provided approximately 30,000 meals.”
North Side Community School
The Bambenek and Griffin advisories traveled to North Side Community School, a small K-6 charter public school serving predominantly low-income, urban, at-risk students. Students served as teaching assistants for the day in first through fourth grades, and in P.E. Navya Reddy ’27 enjoyed helping out in the classroom for a day. “The kids were very sweet and welcoming, and I loved the opportunity to work with them.”
Youth & Family Center
The Thompson and Fitzgerald advisories joined the Youth and Family Center team, a United Way agency that supports youth, seniors, and families in having the necessary resources to live healthy, stable, and independent lives. Students cleaned various spaces in preparation for an upcoming inspection. Some of their duties included organizing games and toys in the youth programs center, cleaning offices and other administrative areas by sweeping, mopping, and dusting, shelving books, and cleaning up the computer/library room.
Gateway 180 Homeless Services
The Marberry and Wallace advisories volunteered at Gateway 180 Homeless Services, the largest residential emergency shelter in Missouri, serving women, children, and families experiencing homelessness. Students spent time stocking and organizing the shelter pantry with toiletries, canned/dry goods, and sorting clothing. They also sanitized and cleaned the cafeteria and hallways. Students enjoyed the additional time to mingle with employees and families at the shelter. Middle School Counselor Erin Sutherlin said, “Our students were efficient, productive, respectful, and hardworking.”
Grant Baumstark ’27 added, “I enjoyed working together with my classmates in a way that allowed us to help other people.” Lola Compton ’27 shared, “Working at Gateway 180 was an amazing experience and an opportunity to work in a team with people we don’t usually. The Wallace and Marberry advisories came up with some creative solutions to sorting lots of different items.” Suchitra Thapa ’27 appreciated the opportunity to organize the food pantry, clothing, and hygiene product donations. “It was challenging imagining what the people there are going through in life, some of the families have lost their homes or are trying to find one, like single moms and families. I came from a poor country (Nepal), and even just seeing what so many people go through every day was tough. But it made me feel grateful for what I have and how I have helped serve my community, knowing that my actions are helping others. It made me feel good about myself because sometimes I even take things for granted.”
Harvey Kornblum Jewish Food Pantry
The White and Shultz advisories volunteered at the Harvey Kornblum Jewish Food Pantry. This non-sectarian organization serves approximately 5,000 people annually by providing food, personal care items, and community resource referrals. Students sorted food donation shelves and the canned donations, removed expired food, packed individual donation bags, and sorted and packed frozen meats and many types of baked goods. They ended up packing approximately 350 daily donation bags. Middle School Teacher Krystal White said, “The girls had a great time and felt closer as an advisory by the end.”
Taylor Gast ’27 enjoyed being able to help the community. “At the food pantry, we had a great time packing bags of non-perishables and organizing many things. It was challenging to carry so many heavy things and sort through thousands of items. It was worth the effort, though, because we were able to help over 350 families get their monthly food pantry meals. It felt so good to help people.” Elena Garcia ’27 enjoyed working as a team with her advisory. “It was hard to hear that so many families were struggling to put food on their plates, but It felt great knowing I was helping people and making a difference in our community. We had such a nice time at the food pantry that we are planning to go back.” Maahi Saini ’27 felt impacted by the reality of the work the advisory was doing. “Food comes so easy to my family and me, and I never thought about how it could not come easily to others. This helped me feel empathy towards them and want to help them more. Every job I did had such a deep meaning to it, and it made me and all of my peers feel grateful and happy. I would love to do this again!”
The Beasley, Smith, and Militello advisories stayed on the MICDS campus to tackle projects such as cleaning out the Middle School attic and the MAC cord closet, sorting sheet music in the Alumnae room, assisting in a JK Library class, organizing the Middle School Makerspace closet, cleaning scuff marks off the stairwell walls, sorting LEGO® containers in Lower School science and cleaning out the Lower School art room closet, leveling several Upper School dining hall tables, taking inventory of furniture in the STEM building, cleaning out the pool storage closet, and spreading mulch in areas on campus. They also added special touches like assembling all the puzzle pieces from the “My Story” segment of last week’s Ram Impact Summit (RISE) on the bulletin board outside Eliot Chapel.
Rowan Wright ’27 said, “I really enjoyed getting to know new people and helping around my community little by little. It made me feel happy knowing I was making a difference in our community. There wasn’t a challenging part of the day other than flipping tables and changing the bolts in the Upper school cafeteria.” Heru Bey ’27 said, “I enjoyed helping in the Upper School dining hall and the Lower School art room. It felt really good to help out around the school.” Sadie Keech ’27 also enjoyed the Upper School dining hall experience. “I enjoyed helping my community in many different ways by fixing Upper School tables and sorting the Lower School LEGO® collection! I tried new things and had so much fun working with my peers,” she said. Milton Duckworth ’27 was pleased with how well everyone came together for a common task. “We all pitched in to help clean areas of the campus, from cleaning the Upper School and working on dining tables to sorting the LEGO® pieces for the Lower Schoolers. We all did our best to pitch in.”
Thank you, eighth-graders, for your day of service to our community!