Friday, October 26 was not a normal day for the Middle School students. The entire student body and faculty served in 25 different locations with a diverse group of organizations in our area. Hands Dirty Day has become a great way of kicking off our service learning projects, which we refer to as “MAD” or “Make A Difference,” that take place all year long.
I have to admit that my heart was not in the right place the night before. There was plenty of moaning and groaning going on in my mind about all of the possible unknowns and break in my nice regular routine. Last year was a great experience serving at Oasis of Paterson so what was my problem? Pastor Richard Jones of Bridgeway Church knocked me right out of my poor attitude into the place where I needed to be that morning. This day isn’t about what should be getting done in the classroom, but instead it was an awesome opportunity to get out of my comfort zone and be God’s hand and feet, acting as His ambassadors in this broken world.
Students and chaperones played games with the elderly, pulled out plants in gardens, knocked down walls, painted walls, organized diapers, organized wood piles, make peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, packaged food items to be distributed to the community, and took care of young children. We met people we didn’t know and had time to reflect on how we can use our gifts while serving others. We got dirty and sweaty while doing tasks that possibly no one has has time to get to. We sat and talked to ladies and gentlemen who might not have anyone else to talk to in their loneliness. After a hot dog lunch, we gathered in small groups to reflect on our day and it became obvious to me that may had stepped out of their comfort zones and were blessed by the tasks they accomplished. Our efforts to transform just a small part of God’s world was evident in the exhaustion we felt.
It is no easy task making sure all of us get where we need to be so we must thank EC parent and PTO President Lynda Vincenti for the countless hours she spent making this day work; from contacting organizations, to arranging student groups based on their interests, to coordinating approximately 30 parent volunteers and bus drivers to get us to our locations.
Serving others isn’t always comfortable and easy, but it certainly is satisfying. My heart was full once again and the students I served with reminded me that each of us can make a difference in the few hours we left the comfort of our classrooms and routines.