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LITTLE HELPERS: School starts family service nights for elementary students
by Christine Fonville
March 05, 2014 11:22 AM | 1810 views | 0 0 comments | 17 17 recommendations | email to a friend | print
From left, Sophia Joi Hook, 7, daughter of Sonya Tinsley-Hook, and Emmit Mansfield, 9, son of Tracie Herold, put together waiting room kits with art supplies and breakfast foods.
From left, Sophia Joi Hook, 7, daughter of Sonya Tinsley-Hook, and Emmit Mansfield, 9, son of Tracie Herold, put together waiting room kits with art supplies and breakfast foods.
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A Decatur school is starting a new, family-friendly program to get elementary school-age students involved and interested in volunteerism.

Members of the Parent-Teacher Association at Briarlake Elementary School hosted their first Family Service Night in February and programs co-presidents Tracie Herold and Sonya Tinsley-Hook said it was one of the group’s most successful events to date.

“It was kind of like a festival, but instead of a game being at every station, there was a service opportunity for families,” Tinsley-Hook said.

Inspired by organizations like Doing Good Together, the association designed five different service projects families with small children could do together, including writing “thank you” cards for veterans, making pet toys for the LifeLine Animal Project, building breakfast and waiting room kits filled with snacks and toys for patients and their families at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and making sandwiches for the homeless.

“About 300 people showed up for the event and about 115 students participated,” Herold said. “We also had a drink and pizza station set up and the proceeds went to the Briarlake Families in Need fund to help with supplies and other necessities right here in our school.” After completing their service projects, families were urged to visit a reflection station set up with information about the agencies benefiting from the service night and more ideas for volunteer projects families with young children could do together.

“What was so exciting about this event was seeing how positive our Briarlake community’s response was,” said Tinsley-Hook. “People were really moved and wanted to know when we would do it again and we’ve had a lot of families who’ve said they were looking for ways to teach their children about volunteerism and service.”

The association successfully collected and distributed 200 sandwiches, 250 cards, 180 kits and 109 pet toys, along with $345 in donations, during its inaugural event.

Herold and Tinsley-Hook said they hope to expand upon and incorporate more projects into the school’s future events.

“We hope to have some of the agencies come out on our service nights and help us teach our students about what they do and who they help,” said Tinsley-Hook. “We will definitely have other community service projects and are grateful for the overwhelmingly positive response so far.”

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