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St. Joan of Arc’s Service Day program is intended to instill the love and importance of service. The students in Kindergarten through eighth grade study a particular topic throughout the year, and then complete a service project about that topic.

Homelessness, for example, was the topic for the seventh grade. Some of the poignant facts learned were how many of the students’ young peers experience homelessness in their very community, as well as how the state budget crisis impacts vital community resources. On Service Day, the students were able to tour the transitional housing area at Evanston’s Connections for the Homeless and then the students packed toiletry bags for the clients.

Other Evanston organizations received Service Day students, as well. After studying their respective topics, the fourth graders toured the Hillside Pantry and delivered packages of food, while fifth graders brought an ice cream social to some Presbyterian Homes residents.

Even more students dispersed throughout the larger Chicagoland community. Eighth graders shared a meal with residents at Misericordia, sixth graders completed small projects at the Maryville Crisis Nursery, third graders played Bingo with veterans at the James A. Lovell Veterans Hospital, and second graders shared books with peers at the Carole Robertson Center for Learning. Not to be left out, the first graders learned about caring for fellow creatures at the Heartland Animal Shelter, while the Kindergarteners learned about reusing and recycling at the Kohl’s Children’s Museum.

Studying a different topic each year exposes the students to the many deserving organizations, as well as to the countless service opportunities, that exist in the community. The Service Day program is one way for the students to live Mother Theresa’s words that “prayer in action is love, love in action is service.”