Riverside students participate in revised Community Kindness Day

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Before the start of final exams and other end-of-year activities, students and staff in the Riverside School District recently took time to give back to their community.

Riverside’s elementary, middle and high school levels partnered with local organizations or expressed appreciation to local businesses during its May 24 Community Kindness Day, said district Marketing and Communications Director Nick Carrabine. This year marked a change from previous Community Kindness Days, which were held during summer break.

One group of high school students visited United Way of Lake County. Their volunteer activities included sorting items for the organization’s food pantry.

“It’s really important for us to have volunteers that are able to help us keep it organized and sort it, so certainly the students being here to do that is a huge help to us, and then they’re also going to assist with helping us do a little bit of spring cleaning within the building,” said UWLC President Dione DeMitro.

The students were later scheduled to help sort clothing items donated for the local Back to School Bash, DeMitro added.

Junior Megan Sullivan described the volunteer work as a “great way to end the year by helping the community.”

Carrabine said that high school students also volunteered at the Lake County History CenterThe Salvation Army and elsewhere in the district.

Riverside sophomore Aiden Kanaga volunteered at the district’s Melridge Elementary School. He said that he was helping with the school’s field day activities.

“It’s been really good,” Kanaga said. “I had a lot of fun helping set up field day, and it feels good to help give back to the community.”

Melridge students also had an opportunity to demonstrate community kindness. Principal Gretchen Wakim said that the school worked over recent weeks to collect more than 300 cereal boxes for End 68 Hours of Hunger. The school celebrated by arranging the boxes in a domino-like pattern and watching them fall in the school gym.

Wakim said that End 68 Hours of Hunger provides at least 50 food bags to Melridge students each week. The organization depends on donations, so the school collects money for it.

The End 68 Hours of Hunger website states that it provides weekend meals to address student hunger between their Friday school lunch and Monday school breakfast.

Elsewhere in the district, Carrabine said that other elementary schools partnered with the Jared Box Project to make boxes for hospitalized children, Project Linus to provide blankets for children and the Lake County Council on Aging to provide food for the Pet Meals on Wheels program and cards for seniors.

He added that elementary school latchkey students made cards for nursing home residents, while a number of students from LaMuth Middle School visited local businesses and thanked them for supporting the district.

“Many of these schools already have relationships with the local nonprofits that were chosen or some were chosen based off the suggestion of a school building staff member that has a personal connection to the organization,” Carrabine said in an email.

This year’s Community Kindness Day was moved to May to allow students to participate, he added. In previous years, around 40 to 50 district staff members spent a day in the summer traveling to express appreciation to the community.

He said that the new Community Kindness Day ties into the district strategic plan’s focus on advocacy, partnerships and engagement.

“We hope our students and staff can help these organizations help those in need within our community,” Carrabine said. “We are always looking for ways to give back to the community and anytime we can get our students involved, the better.”

“We hope the students realize the impact that they are making on their community and the importance of giving back,” he added later. “We hope they know that their work today will leave a smile on someone’s face and help someone in a time of need.”

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