Hundreds of Lower Merion School District students, parents, staff and community members recently gathered at Lower Merion High School for the annual Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. "Afternoon of Service" celebrating the life and works of the late, great activist and civil rights leader. This event not only serves to honor the legacy of Dr. King, but also helps reinforce his closely held belief of the importance of service to others.
Student organizations and the Home & School Associations sponsored a number of hands-on, service-oriented projects for volunteers of all ages, including creating Valentines for Veterans, no-sew blankets for the interventional radiology department at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, grab-and-go snack bags for the Ronald McDonald House, Dream Flags and dog toys. Volunteers also wrote letters to children at CHOP and to those receiving food from Philabundance. Additional projects benefited Broad Street Ministries, buildOn and schools in Senegal and Gambia. Members of the Welsh Valley Middle School Jazz Band provided outstanding musical entertainment, while the League of Women Voters were also on hand as they held a voter registration drive.
LMSD also presented four students with the 2019 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Community Service Award in recognition of exemplary commitment to service and volunteerism, and for truly embodying the values and spirit of the LMSD motto, "Enter to Learn, Go Forth to Serve!" The award recipients were:
- Michelle Kelly, Bala Cynwyd Middle School - Michelle has been a devoted member of buildOn since sixth grade. buildOn is an international organization dedicated to building schools in underserved countries and also supporting the local community through various service projects. Michelle has been involved in many fundraisers for non-profit organizations and has worked on beautification projects and art projects in the Lower Merion area. Michelle is also an excellent student and a positive member of the student body at Bala Cynwyd Middle School.
- Anna Welsh, Welsh Valley Middle School - Anna is an active member of buildOn at Welsh Valley and the founder and CEO of a thriving company—Little Bags.Big Impact—which combines fashion, recycling and philanthropy. Anna handmakes bags from recycled materials, and donates 15% of proceeds to Tree House Books, which provides free books to underserved youth in Philadelphia. Today, Anna's company creates clutches, mini-clutches, sunglass cases and more from fabric that would otherwise be thrown out. In just two years, Anna has recycled over 1,000 pounds of fabric and donated enough money to purchase over 1,000 books for children in need.
- Tula Childs, Harriton High School - Tula participated in Drexel University's SeneGambia program along with the University's Dornslife Scholars in a 3-week program in Senegal and Gambia during the month of August. She was a member of a collaborative team of students and professors from Drexel and other Universities who participated in several projects to promote and improve health outcomes in Africa. Upon her return to Harriton, Tula began her senior project early by spearheading a drive to gather clothing, books, and school supplies to be sent back to Senegal and Gambia through Drexel University.
- Lauren Cobitz, Lower Merion High School - When Lauren walks into a room she brightens it with her warm demeanor and kindness. Lauren goes above and beyond to create a sense of community. Her dedication, passion and love for Best Buddies is humbling. Lauren has been involved in Best Buddies since 9th grade year, however has been supporting students with special needs for years. She was just recently recognized for Best Buddies of PA Champion of the Year. She has organized numerous activities through our LMHS community to benefit Best Buddies such as the Best Buddies Ball, Taste Buds, Halloween Party, and Mudroom Activity.
Special thanks to Welsh Valley Middle School teacher Jamie Nemec for all of her efforts coordinating and organizing the many aspects of this year's program and to Spike's/Main Line Trophies for sponsoring the event! To view a slideshow of pictures from this year's event, click on the image below!