Middle school students in Blue Valley spend morning serving community

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OVERLAND PARK, Kan. -- More than 600 middle school students and 60 staff members headed out into the community to give back and spread a little holiday cheer on Tuesday.

Students and staff at Pleasant Ridge Middle School, 9000 W 165th Street, are putting their theme for the year into action—“It Starts With You.”

"This is a day... that the entire school stops," said Phoebe Lewis, Principal. "It is more than just academics at Pleasant Ridge. It's the social and emotional growth. It's giving back to the community."

The Annual Community Service Day began with busses departing around 7:50 a.m. and returning around 10:40 a.m. Sixth graders will stay back at Pleasant Ridge to honor local first responders who are coming to school around 10 a.m. Students and staff will serve at more than 15 local organizations including:
• Harvesters: A regional food bank serving a 26-county area of NW MO & NE KS. Students will travel to Harvesters to sort and box food donations for local individuals.
• Avenue of Life: Avenue of Life’s mission is to mobilize the community to equip and empower low-income individuals and families to be self-sustained & independent. Eighth graders will travel to AOL to assist the charity by cleaning and beautifying the facility.
• Adopt A Child: PRMS held a drive to collect money; then eighth grade students and teachers shopped to furnish gifts and food for these families.
• First Responders: Sixth grade teachers and students will provide thank you cards, banners and holiday treats for local fire fighters and law enforcement. They are coming to PRMS at 9:55 a.m.
• Hope Distribution Center, Blue Valley Multi-Service Center & Jewish Family Services: Students will help sort and package food items from these three food pantries for local distribution.
• TurnStyles: This is a thrift store, providing clothing at a deep discount for many needy shoppers. Students will help sort and categorize clothes for use in the store.
• Ronald McDonald House: Ronald McDonald House provides a “home away from home” for families of critically ill/hospitalized children. Eighth graders packed snack bags with well-wishes for RMH families to take nourishment on the go.
• Brookdale Assisted Living: Students will travel to Brookdale Assisted Living -- spending time, talking, laughing, reading, working puzzles, and playing games with local seniors – within their residence and place of comfort.
• KVC: This organization helps provide bags, clothing, supplies and comfort items to children. Students will sort donated clothing to distribute to local foster kids.
• Operation Breakthrough: On a daily basis, Operation Breakthrough serves more than 400 children and their families. Eight graders will travel to OB, to assemble and decorate Birthday Bags for needy children.
• Wayside Waifs: Wayside Waifs, is the largest no-kill pet adoption center in KC. Students will travel to WW, to clean; and to make toys and treats for some of the more than 5,000 animals who pass through the shelter each year.
• Choral and Musical Performances: Students will travel to a local retirement home and shopping center to perform – easing anxiety for seniors and brightening the holidays for all!
• Ntsokara School – Nigeria: Nigeria is a country torn by war, and many of its people are subject to extreme poverty. Sixth graders and teachers will create workbooks and wrapped books to start a library at the school.