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We are called to serve. Children can learn a lot from doing  service projects. Service can be provided to any population in need (direct service) or on behalf of a population or issue (indirect service). Helping the elderly learn how to use email to communicate with family is an example of direct service. Recycling in an effort to protect the environment is an example of indirect service.

Service learning creates learning opportunities outside the classroom whether the activities are in the school building or out in the community. Bringing community members, issues and dreams into the classroom changes what’s important in the classroom. Taking the learners out to the community makes what learners do valuable to the community.

Service learning shows the community that young learners can make a difference in the community. This opportunity is also growing learners toward an adulthood of participating in a democratic society.  Service learning connects the curriculum to “real-life experiences”. Being involved inside an activity makes the learner learn from work instead of learning about work. 

Service learning changes the learner as well. Service learning brings higher order thinking as learners become authors and artists using active learning, experimentation and reflection. As educator W. E. B. DuBois said, "Only responsibility teaches responsibility.”

When we are able to provide projects that tap into a young person's passion, big things happen. As one youth returning from a week long volunteer service project of helping physically handicapped adults exclaimed, "I finally found the reason I was born!"

Some learners’ comments about genuine service were:

“It was hard trying new things that you aren’t used to.”

“It is hard when you see something sad happening in the community.”

“It is hard being done especially if you really enjoyed yourself.”

“It is fun meeting new people and working in different places.”

“I really liked getting the opportunity to go and serve in the community.”

“It was fun getting a chance to bless others.”

 “We got to experience new things.” “We got to learn new skills.”

“It was fun when you were helping because you get to see someone smile.”

This article was originally posted at Please visit for more faith formation articles.

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