Source: Sherman Publications

Kids in service

by Wendi Reardon

March 27, 2013

A decade ago, Independence Elementary held their first Serving Our Community Kids Style (S.O.C.K.S.) Day to help the community and make a difference.

Ten years later itís still going strong as the entire school spent last Thursday morning busily working on their donations.

"It's nice to see the passion it invokes," said parent Kim Viazanko, who started S.O.C.K.S.

Her daughter, Katie, now 21 years old, was reading a story in Chicken Soup for Kids and reacted with "Mom, kids really can't do big things like that."

Kim told her kids could, then began working on ideas for Katie's class. As she discovered so many organizations needing help, it grew to involve every grade as well as the entire staff, parents and community.

"It started as a lesson to my daughter - you can do amazing things," Kim said. "Small hands can do big things.

"I love S.O.C.K.S.," said fourth-grader Grace Sielinski. "It's a really fun way to help. My favorite part is the feeling you get inside to know you have helped."

Fourth-grader Brandon Massey agreed. "It feels good to know you are helping people."

This year S.O.C.K.S. Day helped over 525 people as well as 200 animal friends. Kindergartners donated 140 shelter bags with over 900 items for Grace Centers of Hope in Pontiac. First graders created and donated 200 dog and cat toys and decorated 100 bandanas for the Michigan Humane Society. They raised $280 through a pop can drive for Paws with a Cause.

Over 80 care packages were filled by second graders for troops in the U.S. Military with candy, letters, eye drops and good luck charms for two Clarkston High School graduates serving the country in Afghanistan. Third-graders assembled and donated over 250 containers with yummy muffins for Meals on Wheels - Clarkston/Waterford. Cancer patients at Clarkston's Swan for Life Cancer Foundation will be warm with 50 fleece blankets made with love by the fourth graders.

The fifth grade enjoyed the morning playing games, sharing technology and getting to know 55 senior citizens. Since 2004, S.O.C.K.S. has helped 5,219 people and 2,600 animal friends and raised $3,000 for Paws for a Cause.

"This is a good example of the tradition we have built here of service learning," said Corena Bell, a teacher and on Clarkston's Academic Service Learning team.