Many schools require community service but Evans Junior High School provides the opportunity to have middle school students volunteer with SOUL – the Service, Opportunity, Understanding, and Leadership Academy.
Michaela Stork and Jadon Robinson are two eighth graders who spent a week last summer volunteering with the SOUL Academy. They wanted to do it again this year.
“I thought it was a lot of fun, and it felt good to serve others around our community,” Stork said. “You don’t realize that you can do it all of the time. We don’t do it because our excuse is, there is not enough time, but there really is.”
According to Robinson, with volunteering “every bit helps and you can change the community in a lot of ways by doing the little things.”
Evans teacher Jim Broach founded SOUL Academy — the acronym stands for service, opportunity, understanding and leadership — last year as a way for students to volunteer. They asked if could do it again this summer.
This year, 35 Evans students, including 18 eighth-graders who participated last year, are volunteering to complete several service projects running through Friday.
“What I noticed is students wanted to be compassionate and didn’t really know how to give back and how to volunteer, so that is what sparked this SOUL Academy,” Broach said. “What I realized in working with the kids last year is that if you give them the opportunity to serve others they willingly do it, and they learn so much from those volunteer opportunities as well.”
He was able to start the program last year with $2,500 he received from the Beyond the Books Foundation. That was a one-time grant, however, so he had to find funding for this summer.
“So we have various businesses and parents who have donated money mainly to provide for the transportation,” he said.