Northside working to instill community service early

Published 5:14 am Wednesday, February 11, 2004

By By JAMES COLLINS / Niles Daily Star
NILES -- With a strong focus on academic achievement and test scores, it is sometimes forgotten that schools can provide much more important lessons to today's youth.
Community service projects like the food drive being put on by Kathy Hartsell's preschool class at Northside School can teach students to care.
When she began talking about the project, Hartsell told the class that there are needy families out there that don't have enough food to eat. One preschooler responded by saying "Why don't they just buy the food?"
She said projects like these help the very young students to understand that there is more to the world than they think.
Hartsell's class is responsible for organizing a school wide food drive for the Salvation Army.
Each student decorated food collection boxes and they were distributed to each class with a note describing their food drive project.
The four year old students will go from class to class each day of the week and pick up the donations in a wagon.
Monday was the first day of the food drive and they had already filled a corner of the class with a pile of assorted foods.
This is not the first time Hartsell has organized a community service project for her students.
In years past, her classes have held bake sales and a silent auction to raise money for the needy.
One year, some of the students met Hartsell at Martin's Supermarket to help her use the bake sale money to buy food so they could make meals for an area homeless shelter. She said the students helped make hundreds of sandwiches by forming an assembly line of bread, meats and cheese. They also gave fruits and other goodies to round out the meals.
Hartsell said there is a big push for food drives around Thanksgiving and Christmas, but not much activity after that.