For a decade, Hill-Murray high school students have helped nourish the minds of less-advantaged kids at Webster Elementary School in North St. Paul through tutoring. But this year, the teen tutors expanded their mission to include nourishment in the form of groceries for the schoolkids and their families.
Give Hill-Murray students an A-plus for caring, compassion and collaborating on behalf of needy families. After a church-led initiative to provide weekend food for families had to close earlier this year, teens in the private Catholic school’s Christian Service Learning class stepped in to keep the food drive alive. Now the food drive is completely run by Hill-Murray students. Tutors from the Maplewood school’s service class reached out to other classmates. As a result, the hockey, soccer, basketball, lacrosse and football teams got involved, organizing food drives at games and retreats. What started with only six volunteers at Webster each semester now involves the entire student body.
But they didn’t stop with gathering groceries for the weekends. As the weather cooled, they did a coat drive for Webster kids. And when Halloween rolled around, the teens organized a haunted house for their younger friends. Then, during the holidays, they collected affordable items for a shop so the young students could get gifts for their families.
“I’d heard about [families needing food]. But this makes it personal. It’s given me a whole new way to look at the world,” said Joe Swanson, who has organized his classmates to collect food for the youngsters he has befriended.
The Hill-Murray students are certainly not the first or only group to adopt a school. There are many individuals, groups and organizations going above and beyond to help needy kids and families. We could fill the newspaper with the names of those reaching out to others. But it is especially inspiring and noteworthy when teens take the initiative to help younger students.
Kudos to the Hill-Murray students — and to teen volunteers like them at other schools — who unselfishly do so much to help others. They’ve learned that when they feed young minds and bodies, they also learn a thing or two about patience, understanding and making their corner of the world a better place to live.