Friday afternoon at Queens Lake Middle School, students were doing something other than schoolwork. They were working on creative projects to make the community a brighter place.
This year, Queens Lake became the first school in York County to participate in United Way’s Day of Caring.
Katie Schubert, resource and development manager for Virginia Peninsula United Way, said the Day of Caring is an annual campaign by the organization. While different regions may have their Day of Caring on different dates, United Ways across the country participate.
“We are just hoping to spread as much kindness and goodwill as we can,” Schubert said.
Schubert said all of the projects students participated in were done with that goal in mind. For example, the kindness rocks students painted will be placed around the community for people to find.
Other activities included creating pictures for local nursing homes, writing thank-you letters to first responders and making greeting cards for soldiers overseas
“I think anytime you get something a student has made or see their work it has a positive impact,” said Principal Scott Meadows. “The other thing I hope it has an impact on our students and gets them thinking about being a part of the community.”
Schubert said Meadows reached out to the organization to set up the collaborative event. All of the students — more than 470 — took part in the activities. While United Way provided the materials, Meadows said teachers were able to choose which activities their classes participated in.
“This is way beyond the scale that we ever imagined,” Schubert said.
Meadows said he thought the Day of Caring was a good way to start the school year.
“Throughout the school year, we talk about character education, showing kindness toward others, respect, so this kind of activity is kind of the culmination of all the things we have talked about,” Meadows said.
The message of kindness got through to students. Claire Mouritsen, a seventh-grader, said she wanted to make something colorful and silly because she liked making people happy.
“I think (the Day of Caring) has a really great impact (on the community) but I think it also impacts the students because getting to know that helping others and serving others and caring about others and being kind is fun,” Claire said. “Doing these things in class is fun, so maybe it will inspire someone to do it outside of school.”
Meadows said he would like the school to participate in Day of Caring again.
“I think its important in that, in addition to student achievement and academics … we are a school where we really value the social and emotional development of the students,” Meadows said. “So as many opportunities as we can give the kids to develop character and show good character, we really try to make sure we take advantage of that.”
Want to learn more?
To learn more about the Day of Caring or the United Way visit uwvp.org.
Heymann can be reached by phone at 757-298-5828 or on Twitter at @HeymannAmelia.