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Project Impact Promotes Generosity Through Volunteering, Acts of Kindness

Giving students the opportunity to serve others is an idea close to the heart of Chandler Woods Charter Academy ELA Teacher Teresa Majeski. Each year the school holds theme weeks where teachers guide students through activities of interest. Majeski leads Project Impact, where students have the opportunity to give back to their community.
 

Majeski has traveled with her students for previous theme weeks, taking them to state and national parks, teaching them about the history of those places, but a recent ankle surgery forced her to think more local this year.
 
“Volunteerism is something that I enjoy and has been really rewarding for me as a person,” she said. “So, that’s kind of where we got started. I decided there are some kids that would really thrive and be able to invest and give back.”

That started a week full of activities that included writing letters to senior citizens, packing food for Kids’ Food Basket and Meals on Wheels, sorting clothes at In the Image, helping out in yards and gardens, and cleaning up after horses at the Equest Center for Therapeutic Riding.
 

“I tried to teach the kids a little bit about the places that we were going and about the needs in our community,” she said. “We held some discussion circles watched some videos and did some prep work, so they were prepared with the right questions and the right mindset.”

Interacting with customers at In the Image, a store where people can shop for free, students helped customers pick out the perfect winter coats for them and their families.
 
“Day four was a lot of fun,” she said. “I made a road rally for them using an app called Goose Chase and they went out in the community and got to use their creativity.”
 
Clad in matching shirts with Project Impact printed on the front, students spread out and performed random acts of kindness, handing out goodies with cards explaining what they were up to. Students held doors open for people at a gas station, helped load groceries into cars, and dropped off treats to firefighters.
 

“They were interacting with people, taking pictures of their different challenges like paying it forward in the drive-through line, surprising the firefighters with a little treat,” Majeski said. “They just had a lot of fun for a couple hours, and I've gotten really nice feedback from the community.”
 
Students also experienced a reaction they did not expect: Uncooperative individuals.
 
“The kids were surprised to see how many people did not want to interact,” Majeski said. “They would ask ‘can we put your groceries in your car?’ People thought the kids wanted them to donate to us or we want to share our faith or something like that. So they did have some people turn them down and that was surprising to our students, but most people got it, these are just kids out trying to help others.”
 
Majeski said after day three, students easily were able to see the needs of others before their own.
 

“It’s pretty phenomenal to watch how much they grow, and how it piques the sensitive side of most of those students. Who knows? Maybe it inspires them in the future to serve more.”
 
 
 
Chandler Woods Charter Academy is a tuition-free, public charter school in Belmont, Michigan, serving students in Young 5s through eighth grade. It is part of the National Heritage Academies network, which includes 98 tuition-free, public charter schools serving more than 65,000 students in kindergarten through 12th grade across nine states. For more information, visit nhaschools.com.