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| March 17, 2014 | 0 Comments

Woodridge Grade 7s learn to give

The whole concept of community service has changed, thanks to Trevor Von Berg, our headmaster, who in 2010 introduced the idea of each Grade 7 pupil giving up five hours of their free time to serve the community. In 2013, animal welfare captured the hearts of many of our students. They fed and groomed animals and cleaned their enclosures at the Animal Welfare Society in Port Elizabeth (PE) and Humansdorp; helped vaccinate dogs at the Aloe Veterinary Clinic in St Francis Bay; mucked out the camp and groomed horses and donkeys at the Eastern Cape Horse Care Unit, based in PE; and clocked up 59 hours of fun and service at the city’s Bayworld Oceanarium.

A panopoly of projects

People are just as important to us! Grade 7s worked on Friday afternoons, teaching our school ground staff ’s children how to use a computer, and others got to know children at a home for those with special needs in Middelburg. Some of our students enjoyed learning about preschool activities at the 7th Heaven Children’s Haven in Jeffrey’s Bay; others gained a deep sense of satisfaction at the Aurora Hospital in PE, helping children who need physical rehabilitation; at ‘Wings and Wishes’, an organisation dedicated to transporting critically ill children to specialist medical care facilities; and at Merryvale School, which caters for children with special needs. Some of our students with a passion for reading shelved and issued books at the Jeffrey’s Bay Public Library.

One pupil with strength cut wood for an old man, Denis Mafanzo, who has no electricity. He also worked at the SPCA, adopted two kittens and a puppy and, together with his Grade 5 brother, built a kennel for a worker’s puppy. Another of our students helped a widower by cleaning his garden and putting slime in his punctured wheelchair tyres. Anathi called his project ‘Rally to Read’ and gathered books for the needy; Christopher, Nicholas and Shannon sorted out recycling at the Green Cycle Recycling Collection Service and picked up litter at bus stops. Emma helped the elderly at the Rosa Munch House in Uitenhage; Chené assisted children who have reading difficulties from grades 3 to 5 at Selborne Primary School in Sunlands, Addo; Lauren, Kate and Meagan assisted three boys in Grade R at Walmer Primary School who have learning challenges, and others at the Umicare Remedial School in Glendinningvale; Tyla handed out bread to the homeless in Cape Road; and Danika, Cheyanne and Kerry assisted as youth leaders at a holiday club for 100 children at the Samkelwe School in Nomathamsanqa, Addo for the Thembalethu Aids Edu Trust and, together with another classmate also named Kerry, assisted with after-care classes at Sundays River Primary School.

Further afield

Our projects were not only confined to Port Elizabeth and the surrounding areas. One of our Grade 7 stars helped the elderly at the Olivedale Old Age Home in Randburg, Johannesburg; another cared for children with disabilities at Granny Lana’s House, situated 45 minutes’ drive away from Stilbaai in the Western Cape; Brandon-Lee volunteered at the St Giles Association for the Physically Disabled in Dewetshof, Johannesburg; and Nastasya worked at the Chikumbuso Orphanage in Ng’ombe, Zambia.

Think globally, act locally Each Woodridge Grade 7 pupil wrote about their experiences, confirming the wealth they have received through giving. One said, for example: “I felt happy and emotional… seeing so many animals that had been beaten and traumatised now happy, healthy and enjoying themselves.”

Another reflected: “I learnt that community service is a great way to see that not everybody has lots of amazing opportunities or lots of money,” and a third: “[At the] Bayworld Oceanarium… I learnt that they need two hundred million rand to renovate the damaged pools. They received seven million from the government, but remain optimistic. I also learnt that animals are loyal to each other. ”

The Grade 7 Woodridge class of 2013 demonstrated that ingenuity can change the world by changing attitudes in one’s own community. “In the August holidays, I created a raffle and found prizes to donate… two bottles of wine, a batch of cupcakes and two bags of charcoal. I raised R940 and with that money, I bought a lockable medicine chest filled with bandages and creams, a lot of bottled medicine for coughs and colds and the lady at Dis-Chem donated a big red bag filled with all kinds of medicines. They were thrilled when I told them about my project to donate the medicines to the needy,” wrote Jessica.

We hope that other schools can take heart from our experience and make the world of difference on their back doorsteps!

Category: Autumn 2014

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