Austin freshmen pitch in

Published 10:27 am Thursday, May 8, 2008

Austin High School freshmen put their hands and hearts to work Wednesday morning for the school’s first Service Learning Project.

Students were assigned various volunteer opportunities in Austin, like the YMCA, Salvation Army, American Red Cross, Mower County Humane Society, Wescott Field, Todd Park and other locations for two hours, after which they wrote reflective essays about their experiences.

Teacher Kristi Smith, who supervised the Red Cross group, said the freshmen were surveyed about where in the community they thought their help could be used, then ranked their top three choices. At the Red Cross, her 13 students helped make gifts for bloodmobile volunteers.

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“They potted some flowers and made thank you signs to go in the flowers,” she said. “The Red Cross was so excited to have young people working.”

Staff also taught the students about opportunities with the international Red Cross, bloodmobile and volunteering.

“I thought it was pretty neat to put together the flowers with thank you notes,” said Nathan Baumgartner, 15. “It makes you feel good.”

“You get to have fun, get out of school for a couple hours and get your hands dirty,” said Molly Maschka, 15.

Science teacher Matt Pahl’s group at the Salvation Army volunteered in the thrift store.

“They did really good,” Pahl said. “They helped organize the stuff that just came in. Some kids rearranged all the furniture.

“The community was more than happy for the help,” he said.

“We helped organize the clothes by color,” said Esperanza Torres, 15. “It was fun.”

“It’s a very beneficial experience because we helped out in the community,” said Braiden Nelson, 16.