The 950 students at Piney Grove Middle School took a break from classwork Thursday to give back to their community.
The inaugural Grizzly Great Day of Giving spread the students across the county to offer a helping hand at more than 50 nonprofit organizations.
“Just because they’re kids, it’s not like they can’t give,” said Therese Batson, who chaired the event. “They can still do something.
“It doesn’t matter what age you are, everyone can do their part to make a huge difference.”
Students cleaned streets, organized food pantry shelves and packed treats for soldiers. For many, like sixth-grader Jack Preston, it was their first time involved in volunteer work.
“It’s fun,” Preston said. “We get to help out and everything and we get to sort stuff ... we can help out with the community and like, just give back.”
Preston, along with fellow sixth-grader Jackson Brandonisio, volunteered at the Humane Society Thrift Store, sorting shelves and moving merchandise.
Brandonisio said he understands the value of giving back.
“It’s important because we’re helping out,” he said. “They’re going to sell these things and they’re going to help take care of puppies and ... the pound. I thought it was going to be boring until I found out we were going to help people.
“It’s hard work, but you have to do what you have to do to help out.”
Principal Terri North said the school in south Forsyth has seen the impact of the United Way of Forsyth County’s Day of Caring “and thought why not replace that for our 1,100 staff members and students?”
“We want our students to learn outside the walls of their school and grow their servant leadership skills,” she said.
Batson, a parent volunteer, said she embraced the idea when North first approached her with it, but was skeptical that it would get approved.
“She came to me the second day of school this year and said,’I got it approved.’ And we started putting together all sorts of different ways we could help out in the community,” Batson said. “They’re learning that it’s more important to give than to receive.”
For sixth-grader Abby Bowen, the opportunity meant a lot.
Bowen has worked with her classmates to make crafty yard sale signs with residents at the Chestnut Ridge Nursing home.
“They don’t always get visitors every day and we want to make sure that they’re happy and that they have someone to hang out with,” she said of the center’s residents.
“We get to go out to the community and help out at places that don’t always get the help that they need so we can help make it easier on them. I’m really happy that I can help out.”