Service Learning at the Middle School

Curated by Allie D. ՚26 and Alexandra W. ՚26, Middle School students

Photos by Alex Abel and Jenna Pel, Middle School faculty
 

One of the amazing things about Post Oak is the learning opportunities we get to experience while off-campus. This could be outside in our garden, learning new sports on our quad, or going to service learning.

What is service learning? Service learning is when the students and faculty travel off-campus to help and serve people in need. The service learning options are AniMeals, Hope Stone, Hope Farms, Buffalo Bayou, Senior Connect, House of Tiny Treasures, Wesley Community Center, and The Beacon. The students love these activities because it gives the opportunity to physically go and help people while learning about the things they have gone through. While in AniMeals, students say they found themselves at a Hurricane Harvey survivor’s house. Others found themselves helping people in casts or who have trouble walking. Eighth-grade student Ezra P. ’26 says, “It’s not only the students who love to serve; it’s also the teachers and staff.” The students would like to give a big thank you to all the teachers who help service learning come to life. (Allie Dunaway ’26)

AniMeals

So far in service learning, my group has been working with Interfaith Ministries to help people and their pets in need. When we started around December 21, our group members were excited to go to the facility in the school van and experience what it was like. When our group got there everyone got their temperature checked then got to work. On the first day of AniMeals, we got a bag of dog food and a bag of cat food to give to people in the community who requested it. The first house we got to had two happy dogs that greeted us at the door ready for their meal. After many pets, we drove to the next house on the list. When we got to the place it turned out to be a little apartment complex with around 50 rooms. We then went to the back of the apartments and gave the owner the cat food and ended the day. The second and third times our group went, we packaged food and juice into plastic bags using an assembly line to speed things up. Also, we have been taking cat food out of their packages and scooping it into bags. (Eli C. ’26)

The Beacon

The Beacon is a non-profit organization in Houston whose purpose is to serve the homeless community in Houston. Its mission is to provide essential services to those in need and help end homelessness in Houston. Every Friday, we spend an hour and a half at The Beacon volunteering by washing, drying, and folding clothes, organizing and labeling donation materials, managing shower times, and more. Overall, our experience with The Beacon has been an eye-opening learning experience, and we hope to continue our time there! “We get to work with and meet new people every time we go,” says Maddie G. ’26. “I am so grateful for the learning opportunity.” (Anthony H. ’26 and the Beacon group)

Buffalo Bayou

In Buffalo Bayou, we spend most of our time helping in the outdoors, from weeding the garden beds to cleaning out lamps for celebrations. Despite the heat and sometimes the cold weather, we ultimately enjoy being able to create a better space for the Buffalo Bayou community. Recently, we have worked on cleaning out the lamps that are located throughout sections of Buffalo Bayou. Some of the lamps even had beehives and wasp nests, so we had to work our way around those. We also worked on picking up trash that is around the bayou. It turned out that there was a lot more trash than we expected there would have been. We also spent our time weeding the garden beds to make sure they would flourish. The most recent time that we went to Buffalo Bayou, we worked with some of the other volunteers and dug out the dirt from Houston Police Department Memorial, and used a wheelbarrow to move the dirt out of the memorial. Throughout our experience in working at Buffalo Bayou, we have been guided by a man named Steve, who is one of the members at Buffalo Bayou. Overall our experience at Buffalo Bayou has provided us with a better understanding of how to take care of our environment and the community. (Haashir Q. ’27)

Hope Farms

Hope Farms is a non-profit organization that provides fresh produce to the people living in Sunnyside, Houston. Sunnyside is a food desert, which means it is a place where people do not have access to fresh produce. Hope Farms helps solve this problem for the people living in the area. It is a great learning experience that teaches us about agriculture, cooking, and sustainable living. Each week we engage in practical activities that help us sustain knowledge about our environment. These activities include, but are not limited to weeding, planting, taking care of chickens and geese, working in the flower garden, harvesting, and helping out the local community. Every week our group looks forward to collecting the fresh eggs from the chickens we helped raise. Hope Farms has been a wonderful opportunity and learning experience for the Post Oak community! (Emma L. ’27, Dimitra S. ’27, and Trey D. ’26)

Hope Stone

In Hope Stone, we go to a community with senior citizens that have memory problems or have trouble communicating vocally. Ben, Gala, and I (Allie) spend our time setting up and putting away drums for the class. While in session, we spend our time walking around and helping people hold the sticks and go to the beat of the music that is being played by the teachers. When cleaning up, we also put out tables and chairs to set up for horse riding. They are small puppets, when you roll the dice how much they move forward. (Allie D.’26)

House of Tiny Treasures

In our service learning group, we work closely with the House of Tiny Treasures, a school dedicated to providing pre-K education to children whose families are at risk of or are experiencing homelessness. This semester, we made Valentine’s Day cards for each child and got to deliver them personally. In addition, we visited the campus and helped to organize Valentine’s Day gifts made for the kids. Finally, we received a tour of the campus. I truly enjoyed seeing a color wheel we previously made being used in a lesson. It was amazing to see the work this group has put into their service learning payoff. Overall, our first service learning trip was both fun and successful, and we are looking forward to the next. (Emma L. ’27 and Priya P. ’26)

SeniorConnect

SeniorConnect has been a wonderful experience. Every week, the Senior Connect group calls seniors, and it is an opportunity to learn more about them. The main idea of SeniorConnect is to uplift the people that we are calling and make them feel more appreciated. It is an opportunity for students to learn about how to socialize with older people. It also enlightens seniors about students’ lives and gives them nostalgia about when they were that age. SeniorConnect can help in many ways. It can give seniors and students better social skills. SeniorConnect is an incredible program, and it has taught us so much about helping our community. (Olivia C. ’27 and Sofia B. ’27)

Wesley Community Center

The Wesley Community Center is a small food bank in the Fifth Ward. Wesley Community Center staff are always welcoming to us every time we volunteer. The staff always have something that we can help with. In service learning this semester, we have done many things to help the center like peeling cabbages, packing snack bags, organizing the freezers, flattening cardboard boxes, cleaning doors, and much more. Our time at Wesley always allows everyone to not only help the community but to bond with one another. We always enjoy volunteering at Wesley Community Center, and we plan to continue our work there every Thursday. (Amelie P. ’26, Arjun P. ’26, Eli L. ’27, Ezra P. ’26, Kien T. ’27, and Sophia W. ’26, the Wesley Community Center group)

Thank you so much to all the Middle School teachers for supervising each Service Learning group, Ms. Pel for coordinating all the groups, and our volunteer organizations!

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