We started our day at a local park picking up trash for two hours in an effort to support the park systems and make the Earth a little prettier on Earth Day. We left the park and took a quick pit stop at a local restaurant where servers run to your car, take your order, and then rush it back to you so you can eat in the car! It was great representation of our hectic paced American life.
Following lunch, we drove to the Ronald McDonald House in Akron, Ohio to hand in collected “Pop Tabs” which are recycled for money to purchase items for families that stay in the house. These families all have a critically ill child or loved one at the Children’s hospital across the street and would not be able to afford to stay close to their hospitalized loved one without the support of RMH. We collected pop tabs throughout the school year in anticipation of this day of service and it was enlightening to hear about the quantity of pop tabs recycled each month and the monies it generates for RMH.
We spent the next 4 hours baking 12 dozen peanut butter cookies (An American classic) that will be used to share with residents. Some families even came to the kitchen while we were baking and we were able to offer them cookies straight from the oven! Each day the Ronald McDonald house serves over 100 guests breakfast, lunch and dinner, so the rest of the cookies will be put to good use.
After we cleaned up the kitchen from baking, we received a tour of the facility from the volunteer coordinator to learn more about this amazing organization that supports families in the midst of health crisis. We learned the value of our acts of service including the efforts of collecting those silly, little pop tabs. My once skeptical students who thought their service could not make a difference, left the RMH physically exhausted, but understanding that small acts of volunteerism can make a big impact on a community. Global Youth Service day is a new holiday for us and we intend to celebrate every year.
For more information on hosting an involved, community-driven exchange student with AYA, visit our website: www.academicyear.org.