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MLK Day of Service Scaled Back, Not Canceled

Hillside Intermediate will hold its Martin Luther King Day of Service on Saturday.

With a professional development day of planning lost to Superstorm Sandy, there will be no additional programs as part of the Hillside Intermediate School Martin Luther King Day of Service—but that doesn’t mean the show won’t go on.

The program, this year, will actually be held Jan. 19 because of that lost professional day, rather than on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, according to Katrina Macht, teacher at Hillside who runs the service day through the Roots & Shoots Program.

“Consequently, it is a slightly scaled-back event,” she said. “We will be visiting many of the same agencies, but not all of the agencies were able to accommodate us on a Saturday.”

Still, Macht said, there will be many opportunities for the students to do good for the community.

They are planning to hold their variety show at the Chelsea Assisted Living; do an art project with seniors at Avalon Assisted Living; visit the Pregnancy Aid Center, Agape House and Mt. Pleasant Animal Shelter; and have some students and teachers stay at the school to work in the backyard habitat, make duct tape gifts for Robert Wood Johnson Children’s Hospital and string eatable garlands for the birds in Hillside’s Habitat.

This will be the fourth annual Day of Service, and about 100 fifth and sixth grade students will be participating in the event that will last from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.

“At a time in their lives when it is very easy to be totally self-absorbed and think only about oneself, participating students are taking themselves out of themselves to help others in their community in a variety of ways,” Macht said. “Because serving the community is more than a one-off annual event and is a part of the fabric of our school’s culture, Hillside’s Roots & Shoots students are learning how making a difference in someone else’s life makes a difference in their lives.”

In addition to Saturday’s program, Macht said the Roots & Shoots Variety Show will also be performed Friday at 7:30 p.m. at Hillside. There is no ticket price for the program, but she said they are asking for $2 donations to go to Superstorm Sandy relief, and an ailing school at the Jersey Shore that has not yet been named.

“I especially enjoy the inter-generational experiences the Day of Service offers, as well as the role the arts play in advocating for members of our community who are not always visible,” she said. “I think the students enjoy seeing the smiles they bring to others’ faces throughout the day.”

There are plenty more Roots & Shoots programs being held throughout the year, Macht said, including the Dance for African Education May 20, and Forest Fest June 1. In addition, she said, there will be several after-school and Saturday backyard workdays to advance the habitat enhancement projects.

“And the week of Feb. 18, students will be participating in video conferences with scientists in the rainforests of Panama,” she said.

Macht said they have grown the program over the years, from 50 students participating in the first year, to about 200 last year. Unfortunately, she said, the program has become just one more casualty of Superstorm Sandy this year because of having to move it to the weekend when fewer people can participate.

“None-the-less, we are still looking forward to a very successful and productive day, filled with many rich opportunities to serve our community,” she said. “Next year, we hopes to continue to grow the program, if the weather permits.”

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