Little helpers make a big difference |

Little helpers make a big difference

Molly Jager, a seventh grader at Ecker Hill International School, started volunteering at the Park City Museum about two years ago. She helps with the production of "Meet the Ghosts of Park City’s Past" skits as well as "Halloween at the Glenwood," which takes place on Sunday, Oct. 26. This year, Jager will play an 8-year-old girl who died of scarlet fever. Jager volunteers at the museum for approximately two hours each week. "You have a really great time," she says. "It’s a lot of fun and I get to do it with my friends." Jager says she definitely recommends that other kids get involved in community service.

So how do you indoctrinate your kid with the spirit of volunteerism? Simple. Ecker Hill, with the support of its PTO, is hosting its annual Community Service Fair for students on Thursday, Oct. 23. The fair features a plethora of volunteer-dependent organizations that come to talk about the work they do and invite students to get involved. Throughout the day, approximately 700 students will have the opportunity to meet with representatives from a wide variety of organizations.

Meri-Lyn Stark, the IB-Middle Years program coordinator at Ecker Hill, says the goal of the fair is to allow students to make their own decisions about service learning and helping their community. Students are encouraged to dedicate six to eight hours per month to community service outside of school. Service learning is part of the Utah Life Skills Curriculum as well as the International Baccalaureate program.

Ecker Hill students have already attended an assembly to prep them on details of Thursday’s event. The organizations will present posters or other visual aides, and students will receive a diary page with space for comments and contact information.

Last year, a total of 428 sixth and seventh grade students completed some form of community service after networking with organizations at the fair. This year, says Stark, the goal is to surpass that.

Insa Riepen, executive director of Recycle Utah, says there is plenty to do for middle school-age kids. Participants in Project Stomp have a ball sweeping, sorting, cleaning and crushing various items while learning about sustainability. Community outreach programs enable young volunteers to educate and inform their neighborhoods about recycling dos and don’ts. "They really can make a huge difference," says Riepen.

Organizations scheduled to attend the fair include the Peace House, Kimball Art Center, Mountain Town Stages, Parley’s Park Reading Program, National Ability Center, Big Brothers Big Sisters and Swaner Eco Center, among others.

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