Flint Lake Elementary: Raking Leaves, Changing Lives

Flint Lake Elementary: Raking Leaves, Changing Lives

Flint Lake Student Council went out into the community to rake leaves last November. A group of 25 students and adults first served at Maplewood Cemetery, a historic public cemetery for Valparaiso.

Tony Reid, director of public works, greeted the volunteers and provided extra rakes, gloves, snacks and water.

Although the task looked daunting, the volunteers got right to work and maintained a positive attitude. The best thing to hear an elementary student say was, “I think we all made someone’s day today. It was the most fun I’ve ever had while raking leaves.”

The students worked in small groups, using rakes and tarps, to move the leaves as close as possible to the street. The students were very intrigued by the headstones and quickly noticed how far back the dates ranged. During the time there, the volunteers learned that Tony and his crew are usually responsible for completing all three of the public cemeteries on their own. Although the group just made a small dent on the large piece of land, the group took great pride in knowing that they helped alleviate the workload for Tony’s group.

Mid-morning, the group moved across town to Brown Street to help an Army veteran. Although their service opportunity was coming to an end and the students were getting tired, they quickly engaged in the task at hand.

Many students noted that we had just celebrated Veteran’s Day, so they had the idea in the back of their minds’ that they were directly impacting a veteran’s life and well-being. With limited time, the group wasn’t able to completely rake the veteran’s yard.

The advisors told the veteran they would come back the next day to complete the job. They reached out to the rest of the Flint Lake staff and were able to round up about 15 staff members, including the principal, dean of students, and many other teachers and their families.

The Student Council advisors stated, “We thought we had touched Mac’s heart deeply on Saturday when the Student Council volunteered to rake, but the impact of the staff taking time out of their Sunday afternoon was even more meaningful.”

Garner Tullis, executive director of Our Greater Good, helped to coordinate the raking sites for Flint Lake Student Council. After seeing the positive impact on the community and the students alike, Tullis began to speak more with the advisors about making this an event that all Valparaiso Community Schools’ groups could participate in next year.