Seventh grade students from Lift For Life Academy went on five different service learning trips last week to organizations around the St. Louis region. One organization they helped was the St. Louis Area Food Bank in Bridgeton, Missouri. The group packaged a total of 14,678 pounds of food during their trip. Additionally, they helped break down cardboard boxes for storage, as well as helping to package food for some of the 43,000 St. Louisans that the Food Bank is able to provide food for every week. Maddie Smith, the Food Bank’s Communications Manager was overjoyed at seeing how much fun LFLA had at the Food Bank.

“This is one of our biggest volunteer projects because we have to get thousands of these boxes filled each month, and we recently increased the number of boxes that we fill each month,” said Smith. “Their energy and time were especially appreciated.”

Seventh grade English teacher Mr. Devitt led the group and said it was important for the students to learn about helping others less fortunate than themselves.

“I thought it was important for our kids to participate in a service field trip because my number one concern as a teacher is developing good people,” said Devitt. “I believe that through service, you develop your sense of empathy and it pulls kids out of their egocentric perspective.”

Smith echoed that sentiment when speaking on the value of volunteering in the community.

“Giving back is a value that is wonderful to see in any age, but it’s really great to see kids and students latch onto that as part of their worldview,” Smith said. “When people come into our Volunteer Center, it’s our hope that they realize that there is a need right here in their community, and the impact that they can make in just a few hours.”

In the end, students came back with a valuable lesson in helping those who may not be able to afford their own food and necessities, and Devitt said that was happy with the results.

“The most beneficial thing my students got was the realization helping others is both fun and rewarding,” said Devitt. “My favorite part was seeing the students take full ownership of the project and organize it from start to finish; the buy in was much more authentic.”