Lower School Students Complete Day of Service

Ellis students in kindergarten through grade 4 partnered with East End Cooperative Ministry (EECM), a local organization that provides educational and prevention programs, food and shelter, and counseling services to those in need, for a Day of Service on April 4. Throughout the year, Lower School students have learned the meaning of service learning through guided lessons, conversations, and interdisciplinary projects.
In kindergarten, girls have learned how to be a good neighbor, friend, and classmate; in grade 1 students are introduced to the idea of food insecurity and service learning; in grade 2, they delve into the makeup of different communities and neighborhoods in the innovative Metropolitan City Project; in grade 3, girls hold a yearly winter accessories drive; and in grade 4, students s lead the division-wide—and for the first time this year, school-wide—$$ for Change fundraiser.  

This continuing education on kindness, empathy, and service launched Ellis girls into action. After winter break, students in grade 1 started a toiletry drive for EECM and urged their fellow peers to get involved and donate to the cause. In true Ellis fashion, students banded together with the help of their families and collected six crates of toiletries for EECM ahead of their Day of Service.

Dressed in their plaid jumpers and brimming with excitement, Ellis girls arrived at EECM—which is located just one mile from the Ellis campus—to deliver, sort, and pack their donated goods into individual grab-and-go care packages for those in need. Students also had the chance to visit the facility’s food pantry, which feeds 450 families a month and is the second largest food pantry in the region.

As students saw firsthand the impact EECM has on their community each day, they were quick to ask questions and reflect on their own circumstances, while they learned about the educational and prevention programs offered at EECM, as well as why some people may need a hot meal, warm bed, or groceries for their family. Annie Bumsted, Class of 2027, shared how the field trip made her realize how fortunate she was and asked how old she had to be before she could come back and volunteer herself.

“The girls stepped completely outside of themselves during the field trip—they were so focused and engaged,” said Interim Head of the Lower School Susan Freudenberg. “They genuinely wanted to know what more they can do to make an impact and make a difference in people’s lives.”

Upon their return to campus, students continued the day’s theme of service by working together on a project for Family House, an organization that offers patients and families who are seeking medical treatment an affordable “home away from home.” They then broke into groups to create small care packages, lovingly stamped with the note “Made with Love by Ellis Lower School students,” that were packed with toiletries and a sweet chocolate pretzel treat the girls made together. Following the Day of Service,  will continue to reflect on the day’s themes of service, compassion, and giving back as they enter into a new service learning challenge, the $$ for Change Fundraiser for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.

This interdisciplinary, real-world experience at EECM enhanced girls’ understanding of classroom concepts while expanding their understanding of the world (and immediate community) in which they live. Because when students take part in community service, they’re not only helping others—they’re helping themselves.

Learn more about service learning at The Ellis School here.