Nearly 150 volunteers from Shady Side Academy engaged in hands-on community service projects at two locations in Pittsburgh on the Academy's sixth annual MLK Day of Service on Monday, Jan. 18, 2016. The volunteers, which included students in grades PK-12 plus parents, faculty and staff, celebrated the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday by volunteering on this national day of service, making it "a day on, not a day off." Partner organizations this year included Beverly's Birthdays, Habitat for Humanity, the Kingsley Association and Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh.
More than 50 Junior School students, parents and faculty/staff members spent the morning at the SSA Junior School campus in Point Breeze serving Beverly's Birthdays, a local nonprofit that provides birthday celebrations for children experiencing homelessness. Volunteers baked and decorated cookies, assembled goody bags and treat jars, made birthday cards, created "boo-boo bunnies" and painted colorful picnic tables. Beverly's Birthdays is also the beneficiary of Shady Side's annual student-run benefit music festival, Untucked, and Senior School students from the Untucked committee helped to lead the service activities.
Nearly 100 Middle and Senior School students, parents and faculty/staff members spent a full day volunteering at the Kingsley Association in Larimer. Middle School volunteers worked with Habitat for Humanity to paint four rooms in the community center. Habitat for Humanity brings people together to build homes, communities and hope. The service opportunity was made possible by the Jewish Federation Volunteer Center.
Senior School volunteers worked with the Kingsley Association and students from the East End to assemble, decorate and deliver rain barrels to Larimer residents to help reduce water bills and alleviate stormwater problems. The Kingsley Association provides comprehensive, culturally relevant, educational, recreational and social programming that positively impacts the lives of youth and families in the East End.
Middle and Senior School volunteers also cleaned and sorted hundreds of donated books that were collected in SSA's month-long book drive for Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh.
The MLK Day of Service has become an annual community tradition at Shady Side. SSA held its first MLK Day of Service in 2011, and each year since, hundreds of students, parents, faculty and staff come together to make an impact in the Pittsburgh community.
"Instilling the value of service has long been a hallmark of a Shady Side Academy education," said SSA President Tom Cangiano. "It's important to us to be deliberate in finding ways for our students to engage with and serve the communities beyond our campus gates. The MLK Day of Service is an opportunity for our entire school to come together to be educated about social issues, engage in meaningful service and reflect on its impact."
Several local media outlets came out to cover the day's activities, including KDKA-TV, KDKA Radio, WTAE-TV, WPXI-TV and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.