Sophomore Religion Service Project

Cara Keller and Annamarie Palermo

This semester, the sophomore class was asked to complete a service project to help others.  This project allowed students to go out into the community to learn more about a service organization, while also meeting new people.  Afterward, the girls wrote an essay describing what they did and reflected on their different experiences.  In addition to an individual paper, students were required to present a group presentation.  This project is a great way for these girls to get involved in their communities as well as discover the joy of helping and serving those in need.

The City of God project is one of two major projects that the sophomore grade is assigned. The girls are to pick a service organization with a website to be used later. They will go to the site of their choice with or without company from classmates and can a number of activities depending on the site. Some students will bake food for shelters while others could bring food to those who need; some sophomores would do volunteer tutoring while others would organize clothes. While doing their assigned tasks, the girls volunteering will have a chance to meet someone and learn something about that person. Once a student has gone to their site, they can start writing their paper which includes seven parts.

The first part is the cover page which includes the name, code, date, title, a quote, and pictures of the student depending on the teacher. The second part includes the mission, purpose, and work of the site visited which can be found on the organization’s website. The third part is where the site is described and the student explains what the organization looks like. The fourth part consists of a summarization of what was done, how the person felt and what the person learned. The fifth part is where the student gets the chance to talk about someone they met during their time volunteering and tell that person’s story. The sixth part now moves onto an area wider than what the volunteer did, but to one of the multiple issues that organization tries to tackle with their work, such as hungry, poverty, homelessness and more. The final part, part seven, includes research on how the church gets involved and supports or discourages the organization’s mission. After the written part, a student or a group of students presents the organization that they went to and include discussion questions, a prayer, possibly a video, and their own individual personal stories in order to try and get the class interesting in the site and involved in the presentation.

Although this may seem like too much to do, many students were more apt to get involved in the project, and some even excited about it. According to Mrs. Kromm, religion teacher at Merion, the idea behind the project was to show the girls that religion is meant to me lived and not just learned in a classroom. The teachers wanted to show students that both were very important in order to fully call oneself a follower of their religion. The project makes the girls go to a service site to live their religion with the teachers hope that  making them go the first time, they will want to go many more times on their own. Learning about service for sophomores also ties in nicely with their first semester curriculum course which is the history of the Church. Mrs. Kromm stated that this tied in nicely because even through all the mistakes the church has made, service has always remained strong and important in the Christian religion. Mrs. Kromm also said, when asked what is her favorite part about this project,  that: “My favorite part of this project is to see students who at first see it as a job to be down but come back having learned something new and wanting to continue helping others in any way they can.” Mrs.Kromm also enjoys to see how the parents get involved and help students stay involved. Below is a reflection by Cara Keller, a sophomore writer on Ricordia, about how her service project affected her life.

I often see lines of adults and children waiting for food under I-95 in my neighborhood.  Until now, it did not really register why they were waiting in such long lines.  I know now that they were waiting to receive food from Philabundance.  With Thanksgiving just around the corner and after spending time at Philabundance, I discovered how truly lucky and thankful I am for the life I have.  With such small actions like packaging apples, I was able to help feed people who otherwise may not have gotten to eat.  And many of these people live in my community of South Philadelphia.  I felt a sensational feeling inside of me, as if I could do anything.  While millions of people around the world are homeless, hungry or both, I realized how thankful I am to have my parents, as well as the abundant opportunities available to me to achieve my dreams.
After this experience, I learned that everyone can make a difference.  Whether it’s donating to charities and food drives or volunteering at local homeless shelters, we can all do our part in helping those less fortunate than we are.  As Christians, it is our job to help these and all people.  Jesus once told us to “Feed the hungry.”  But, we shouldn’t want to help others simply because we are told or because it’s a school assignment.  We should all genuinely want to help these people because despite our differences, we are all brothers and sisters living in God’s world.  His Golden Rule tells us, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”  I know that if the roles were switched, I would want others to help me in any way that they could.  We are all capable of aiding people in one way or another, but it is up to us to choose whether to do it or not.  My experience at Philabundance was hard, but felt so good and I intend on having that feeling often!