Independence Elementary students serve the community ‘kid style’ for SOCKS week

By Megan Kelley
Clarkston News Editor
Students at Independence Elementary School participated in the 21st annual SOCKS week last month where students from young fives to fifth grade served the community through various service learning projects.
The school wide initiative targets specific grade levels with a number of community members to provide students with opportunities for civic engagement as well as academic instruction, said Anne Duffy, coordinator for the SOCKS program, Clarkston Schools Elementary advocate for service learning and first grade teacher at Independence Elementary. The students begin work on their grade specific project when they return from spring break and continue working on it for about a month. The culmination point of all their hard work is SOCKS week where all of the students get to celebrate their success in serving the community through various avenues.
“Academic service learning is where we are learning in our classrooms while working with our community to help others,” Duffy said. “We’re trying to come together to use our voice within community partnerships to inspire others through kindness and empathy but in the meantime we’re meeting all of our benchmarks and state standards and learning criteria. So, they’re learning in their classrooms. Our first graders wrote persuasive letters to adopt a pet from the shelter. Each grade level is tied to specific curriculum so it just kind of enhances what we’re doing in the classroom.”
Each grade level works on their own projects throughout the month.
Young Fives created garden projects for the Kindercub Garden and also visited Clarkston Family Farm.
Kindergarten worked with Grace Centers of Hope by making personal care packages for families in need.
First graders partnered up with the Michigan Humane Society and Paws with Cause by raising money and sponsoring a collection drive for shelter items.
Second grade students supported the United States Armed Services by sending care packages and writing letters of support.
Third graders partnered with Meals on Wheels as volunteers by donating muffins and raising money. They also wrote personal letters to the senior citizens.
Fourth grade students helped Children’s Miracle Network by making blankets for those who are sick and hospitalized.
Fifth graders contributed to the Kick Starting Kindergarten program by creating tote bags full of age appropriate activities to help new kindergartens as they come into the grade next year.
“It really warms my heart and I know that I’m seeing the impact that this can have for their future and I think it’s great. They’re understanding at an early age how to be a meaningful part of the community. I love the quote from Martin Luther King who says, ‘anyone can be great because anyone can serve’ and these children can be great because they can serve right now and make a difference in their community,” said Corena Bell, the original coordinator for the SOCKS program. “I also love that the community sees them as a resource too.”
Not only do the children gain pride and confidence in their ability to help others, but the community partners also gain volunteers and program awareness. Many of the partnerships are ones that have been established for the entire 21 years the program has been operating.
“We’ve had so many partnerships formed from them reaching out to us. We’re hoping that our partnership not only feeds these kids to want to serve others and develop kindness and empathy and care but also serves as a resource too, that we’re here to support our community.” Duffy said. “It’s a great tradition that these kids are learning. Because these partnerships are established for over 21 years, they know what to expect in first grade, second grade, third grade and so it’s this great tradition and they know they can look forward to it and they look back and can say: ‘we did that.’ So, they can connect to it that way.”

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