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Students spend day helping the community

Daniel Smith proudly displays his finished box for Meals on Wheels. (click for larger version)
March 30, 2011 - Fourth-graders sprawled out in Independence Elementary's library tying knots on colorful fleece blankets last Thursday.

As 11 o'clock approached, they tied more than 11,000 knots to over 40 blankets for Swan for Life Center in Clarkston during the school's eighth annual S.O.C.K.S day, Serving Our Community Kid Style.

The blankets will be handed out to pediatric oncology and oncology patients receiving treatment at Swan for Life Center.

"It will keep them warm during chemotherapy," said Leah McLean from Swan for Life, with a big smile, accepting the blankets.

Down the Kindergarten hallway, the students filled bags with toiletries for Grace Centers of Hope and decorated the bags.

"When moms and kids come in they have nothing but the clothes on their backs," explained Melissa Rodriguez from Grace Centers of Hope. "The bags are truly a blessing."

Turning the corner, first-graders were busy making treats and toys to be donated to the Michigan Humane Society.

They also raised money through bottle returns and donated over $380 to PAWS for a Cause.

Second-graders were writing letters filled with thanks and encouragement as the morning came to a close. They had already finished making 85 care packages for the United States Marines stationed overseas.

They filled it with tons of goodies like gum, candy, eye drops and water squirt guns.

"Everything you send gives them a little piece of home," said Corporal Lance Nehonsky.

Blake Bur in Dr. Gretka's third grade class finished tying the ribbon on a box of homemade muffins, explaining all of the fourth graders were putting the boxes together for Meals on Wheels.

Along with each box is a note and picture from the talented students.

On the other side of the school in the gymnasium, fifth graders were laughing and talking while playing board games and card games with senior citizens from throughout the community.

Ethel Freeze, grandma of fifth grader Garrett Hine enjoyed the students singing to them.

"It made me reflect on when I was a kid," she smiled, noting how she and Principal Chris Turner talked about gas prices, and she missed the 19 cents per gallon from when she was a kid.

The students also interviewed their guests and treated them to fruit, muffins, coffee and water.

"What a morning," said Turner. "What a experience, what a great job."

S.O.C.K.S. is a Kindergarten through fifth grade academic service learning projecte. The event, coordinated by first grade teacher Corena Bell, helps the students understand the impact they have on their community.

Each grade's project is tied directly to their curriculum. Before the event, the students spent the last few weeks learning and practicing the curriculum goals tied with their project.

Wendi graduated from the University of Michigan-Flint with a degree in communications. She wrote for the Michigan Times college paper and Grand Blanc View before joining The Clarkston News in October 2007.
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