‘Helping Hearts One Week At A Time’ service initiative kicks off
It was just after sunrise when a group of Parkway High School students arrived at Barksdale Air Force Base Saturday.
They assembled together just outside the Barksdale Global Power Museum to get their assignments for the day’s community service project. On the list were washing a few of the aircrafts, picking up debris in the air park and taking in a little history lesson in the process.
The students, ranging from freshmen to seniors, were there to lend a helping hand through a new parish-wide initiative implemented this week by the Bossier school district. “Helping Hearts One Week At A Time” emphasizes community service that not only shows appreciation, but as the first step to making a bigger difference.
School officials say they are aligning the project with the quote, “it’s good to be blessed, but it’s better to be a blessing.”
“There is no question Bossier Schools is blessed in many ways,” Sonja Bailes, public relations liaison for Bossier Schools, said. “We are a growing public school district with strong community support.”
Last year, Bossier Schools embraced “Rachel’s Challenge,” a nationwide effort to start a chain reaction of good deeds and pay it forward. From sending candy to U.S. troops serving overseas to collecting thousands of dollars for victims of the Oklahoma tornados, Superintendent D.C. Machen said the many acts of goodwill demonstrated by the Bossier School system are inspiring.
“While Bossier Schools consistently provide students with excellent educational opportunities, we teach something else of much greater value that is not part of the curriculum; the importance of looking beyond ourselves and reaching out to meet the needs of others,” Machen said. “In doing so, I have no doubt the long-term benefits we reap will far surpass a school or district performance score.”
Tracey Smith, a Parkway senior and Lt. Col. in the AFJROTC program, said his school is no stranger to giving back through canned food drives and collecting money. However, he is excited that this initiative will get the students more hands on in the community.
“This will get us all to step up and help more often and hopefully inspire some of us to become better citizens,” Smith said. “We hope to set the bar high and make this another opportunity for our school to excel.”
“Helping Hearts One Week At A Time” will include every school, center and department within the Bossier school system. A different group will spend one week this school year to pay it forward in whatever way they choose with a common goal of looking “beyond ourselves and reach out to help others.”
Over the summer, Bailes said numerous non-profits were asked if they could be granted five wishes what they would be.
“We received an overwhelming response and those wish lists have been sent throughout the school district,” Bailes said.
However, acts of service are not limited to non-profits. Bailes said they are open to helping a family in need, an organization at school or school site that feels strongly about a cause abroad.
“It is up to them; they are simply asked to go where their hearts lead them,” Bailes said.
MSgt. Doug Ricker, Parkway AFJROTC instructor, hopes the students gain more than community service hours.
“We are teaching these young people to be tomorrow’s leaders,” Ricker said. “We hope this will teach them that servant leadership is the right thing to do.”
Other events planned for Parkway students this week include a canned food drive to stock the BAFB food pantry, helping the Airman’s attic, handing out thank you notes on base. Smith said although Parkway is kicking-off the event, this isn’t something to be competitive over.
“This isn’t about school rivalries or one school doing better than the other,” he said. “We want other schools to know that if Parkway can do this, they can too.”