By PAUL A. BARRA
ROCK HILL — When the middle schoolers at St. Anne School decided to help other children, they went one step further than collecting toys for the holidays. Although they did that, too.
All 60 members of Teens For Peace, a service club at the school, held a Children’s Sabbath service on Nov. 18 at the parish. They invited speakers representing agencies that aid children to tell the people of Rock Hill what the lives of some of that community’s children are like and what their needs are. They invited local Muslims to explain their faith and entertainers to keep things moving. It was an eye-opening experience for the students.
“It was a great opportunity to find out what’s going on in our community,” said Susan Scott, the teacher who thought of a Children’s Sabbath while the club was searching for a service project. “We got our ideas for the program from the Children’s Defense Fund, but the kids did all the work themselves.”
Bolstered with ideas from this nonprofit agency, the Teens For Peace members called agencies to request speakers for their Sunday afternoon event, went to each class at the school to pitch the program and to solicit donations of items the agencies needed, wrote prayers and designed the program. Along the way, they learned a lot.
“Most of these kids have no idea how other children live; they’ve never even driven by the poor sections. They’d never see poverty if we didn’t bring it to their attention. Now, they want to be sure that everyone has what he needs,” Scott said.
Contacting such agencies as Commission For Children, The Children’s Attention Home and the City of Hope was a learning experience in itself, according to Wrenn Woods. Woods is the 11-year-old daughter of Doug and Angela Woods and a member of Teens for Peace.
“We found out in speaking to them that there are a lot of less fortunate children. A bunch of people were glad to come and speak at our Sabbath. I thought it was a good way to help out children,” the sixth-grade Presbyterian said.
Assistant Principal Pat Blaney Bright and pastor Oratorian Father William Pentis both seemed impressed that the middle school students had pulled the whole afternoon off on their own. Bright said that the children made flyers to send home and posters for school and businesses. She also cited the supervision of Scott and parent Sue Edmonds for the success of the program.
The Ebonite Choir from nearby Winthrop University sang at the service, and the Hispanic Dance Troupe danced in traditional Mexican style. The Teens For Life served ethnic foods afterward in the parish family life center, where more information about the agencies was available. The students also solicited donations of toys, art supplies, food, diapers and books.
For more information about the Children’s Sabbath, contact St. Anne’s School at (803) 324-4814.