Tackling social issues with service

BMS students reach out to community

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Teacher Ann Quinn, left, works with her students to remove the contents of an abandoned apartment.
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Owen Leeper, left, and Justin Deed, rake the flower beds at Hartman Community.
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Sarah Farley, top, and Yiyi Liu, paint a bench at Hartman Community.
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Rachel Sunderland, left, and Leah Echard, remove weeds from a planter at Hartman Community.
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Ben Pierce, left, and Scott Hertzog, scrape old paint from an exterior door at the Shelter Service in Lewistown.

In eleventh grade, students at Belleville Mennonite School have a once-a-week class called Social Issues. The purpose of the class is for the students to explore social problems in the world, then apply a Christian worldview to seeking ways to solve or alleviate the problems.

Some of the issues studied during the past school year were racism, sexism, mental health, addiction and homelessness and poverty.

The class culminates at the end of the year with three days of service experiences. This year the students partnered with Backyard Ministries on May 21, and went to the Hartman Community in Mount Union. The students cleaned up the park adjacent to the community by weeding, mulching, picking up trash and painting. That afternoon the class held a picnic barbecue for the people of the community and helped Backyard Ministries run a “club.” Backyard Clubs are a time for kids in the community to play and interact with adults and high school students, followed by Bible stories and snacks.

On May 22, the class went to the Marcella Ganoe Center in Lewistown. There, the class spent time with the clients. There was a picnic and the class then led the clients with developmental disabilities in an afternoon of playing bingo.

On May 23, the class went to Shelter Services Inc. in Lewistown. The students did many things, including removing old carpet from two locations at the emergency shelter, removing the contents of an abandoned apartment and then cleaned the apartment for the next tenant, gardening, picked up trash and scrubbed the front of the building and scraped and painted an exterior door.