By Christina Rice
Students throughout the community are spreading Christmas cheer this season while giving back to others through their school’s year-round community service projects.
Maryville Middle School
Maryville Middle School students may volunteer to deliver meals as well as serve meals at the senior center.
Students can apply for either program and rotate program staffing each semester.
Every Wednesday throughout the school year, students serve meals at the senior center and help host a birthday party for all the seniors who celebrated a birthday that month. After the meal, students clean and do dishes.
“The students help a lot when they are here. Everybody likes them here. It boosts their spirits,” Senior Center Assistant Linda Auffert said.
Each week, two students ride with a local community member to deliver meals, helping them with their route and visiting the recipients.
“We started this program to build character, citizenship and confidence in young people. It amazes me each year how a student’s perspective changes from the first time they volunteer to their last,” Maryville Middle School Counselor Heidi Webster said. “The students fall in love with the experience and the people they are serving. I really do believe that this opportunity can be a life changing event for our students.”
First and sixth graders from St. Gregory’s school visited residents of Oak Pointe Assisted Living and Memory Care, Maryville, on November 29. After studying nursery rhymes, they created presentations with props and put on a show for residents.
“It was touching to see our students bring so much joy to the residents at Oak Pointe,” Betsy Nielson, sixth grade teacher, said. “As the students recited their nursery rhymes, many residents sang right along with them as if it was bringing them back to their childhood.”
St. Gregory’s students also volunteer regularly at The Ministry Center.
The Jefferson band and choir performed for the Nodaway County Association of Retired School Employees’ annual brunch on December 1. They spent the rest of the day bringing smiles to the faces of area nursing home residents with holiday music.
In its fourth year, the musical tour has become a tradition.
“It is a wonderful day of music-making and camaraderie,” Cecily Lanier, Jefferson band director, said. “These students do a great job of performing, but more importantly, they spend a lot of time at each performance talking to the nursing home residents and listening to their stories, their histories, of living in Nodaway County.”
Nodaway-Holt third graders visited the Nodaway Nursing Home on December 14, singing Christmas carols and reading books with residents.
The students visit once a month to sing, read, play games or do crafts with residents.
“We do something once a month which is wonderful. The students connect instantly with the residents. The age gap closes and they bond instantly,” Nodaway-Holt’s music teacher Bob Svoboda said. “They see people they recognize. They make wonderful connections. At first the students show some trepidation until they get started, then the anxiety is gone.”