At Oakwood Adventist Academy (OAA) in Huntsville, Ala., the mission statement reads, “Oakwood Adventist Academy exists to provide a spiritual, academic, social and service-oriented environment to Develop, Nurture and Affirm (DNA) students for a lifetime of service to God and humanity.” Last semester, December 2017, the administrators were faced with the challenge of implementing the principles that this statement heralds in an unconventional manner. The school’s academic calendar had concluded, but there were still two school days left before the end of the semester. The administrators tasked the Spiritual Life Committee chair, Jameel L. Daniels, M.Div., chaplain, with the responsibility of planning service days that would give the students the opportunity to put hands, feet, and sweat on to the school’s mission. It was time to make it all come together in a practical show of citizenship and empathy. The students were separated by grade, and assigned an outside entity to serve.
The first day of service saw approximately 60 students volunteering in various capacities around Huntsville.
The freshmen class spent the morning cleaning up a local theatre company’s practice and education space. The space is designed to teach children of all ages acting techniques, costume design, staging, set design, and proper play production. The students and their chaperones spent four hours landscaping and picking up litter from a drainage ditch near the front of the building. It was a heartwarming experience to see everyone working together and enjoying themselves. The students were tired and dirty when they finished, but they were also satisfied and appreciative for the experience.
The sophomore class went to a local rescue mission, where they prepared and served food. This service center for the less fortunate serves approximately 271,000 meals per year, and OAA students were there to be a part of this practical, lifesaving effort.
The junior class volunteered at a local Seventh-day Adventist-owned-and-operated thrift store. The students organized various sections of the store, sorted through various items for resale, and cleaned. The students completed approximately 50 hours of individual labor during the four hours they were there.
The senior class volunteered at a nearby convalescent home. They sorted, cleaned, organized, and created gift bags for the residents.
The students returned to their campus where lunch was provided, and they spent time discussing their experiences. They shared their appreciation for the opportunity to spend time outside the classroom and be useful in helping others. It was quite an experience to share with them.
Additionally, 17 students and four faculty members donated 21 pints of blood to the LifeSouth Blood Bank on Tuesday, December 19, 2017, which services the Huntsville area exclusively. The donor recruiter, Andrea Dye, said that the event was a “great success,” and that she was happy to have partnered with OAA. The students earned about six hours of community service for the two-day outreach, and all saw an attitude of service turn into a commitment to service.
South Central | March 2018