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Passport of Service
Dr. Matthew Panozzo

To develop our students' hearts and minds, AOS has participated in a variety of service projects over the years. However, our protocols
to limit the spread of COVID-19 presented some challenges when creating service projects that connected students with communities in need.

With the help of Belinda McGinty, Middle School Service Learning Chair, Annunciation Orthodox School opted to support the DeZavala Middle School Market. While Food Stamps and Lone Star Card programs are designated for food items, personal care items such as toilet paper, soap, shampoo, toothbrushes, and toothpaste are not allowed on such assistance programs. The Houston Food Bank can distribute these additional items, but they only have a limited quantity, and unfortunately, the School Market at DeZavala had not received any of these products in quite some time.

Although we wish we could have held a more interactive service project, this still provided an opportunity to discuss service and the
importance of offering support for others. To drive the message home, we created our “Passport of Service.” During each drive, students received a sticker for their passport, each one associated with a thematic message for discussion and reflection. The following describes each month’s message:

  • Our first drive was in December, and to kick things off, we asked students to focus on the statement, “How you make others feel about themselves says a lot about you.” Leading up to this drive, we watched videos and listened to testimonies on how school markets benefit students and families by giving people access to necessities.
  • In honor of Martin Luther King, Jr., we selected one of his quotes for January: “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: what are you doing for others?” Collecting items is a small way of showing others we are supporting them.
  • Being that we are a middle school, we tried integrating some humor for our February drive with the phrase, “‘All you need is love’ and personal hygiene products.”
  • None of us anticipated the Snowpocalypse in March. Many of us huddled in our home without power and electricity. However, we were able to turn this into experiential learning as we talked about our own stress in seeking essentials. We took the sage advice of Mr. Rogers: “Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”
  • For our penultimate drive in April, students had an opportunity to design a sticker themselves. Ms. MacDonald’s 6th-grade cohort won with, “The meaning of life is to find your gift. The purpose of life is to give it away.” It was a fitting quote as we used this year to discuss the different ways we can serve the AOS and Houston community at large.
  • And last, in honor of the Olympics, we created our own quote: “Service means having the courage to use your hearts and minds for others.”

Across the six drives, AOS donated an overwhelming number of resources to DeZavala School Market. Our generosity was greatly appreciated and even shared with neighboring schools.

This article was originally published in the Fall 2021 issue of The Delphian

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