Unionville students, parents, staff take a day ‘On’ for MLK

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Volunteers team up to improve their communities to honor the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

By Mike McGann, Editor, UnionvilleTimes.com

Sewing machines are lined up, one after another, as volunteers complete hand-made quilts for local childrens hospitals, Monday, at Pocopson Elementary School as part of the Unionville-Chadds Ford School District Day of Service in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

In the truest sense of the word, it was a day “on” rather than a day off. Hundreds of people gathered to volunteer their time and effort as part of a district-wide Unionville-Chadds Ford School District Day of Service in honor of Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday.

Students, district staff and parents fanned out all over southern Chester County Monday with various tasks, but one goal: to help others.

At Hillendale Elementary School, more than 100 volunteers helped make soup and pack  hundreds of brown-bag lunches for a womens’ shelter. At Pocopson Elementary, more than 300 people came to make quilts and bookmarks. Meanwhile, students from Patton Middle School were offering application training on PCs, while others were working to clean up nearby Anson Nixon Park. Unionville High School students were volunteering at the Kennett Senior Center or at the school sorting district-wide food donations for local food banks.

Volunteers at Hillendale Elementary School work to pack brownbag lunches for a womens' shelter, while others cook up batches of soup, Monday.

The gym at Pocopson was packed — fortunately organizers chose to move to a bigger space after last year’s capacity crowd — with people making quilts and blankets. The raw materials came from some $1,800 raised by students involved in “Penny Wars.” The “wars” were friendly competitions between classes and grades to see who could bring in the most pennies, breaking open piggy banks and pestering moms and dads for spare change. Those pennies turned into raw materials and with the work of hundreds of volunteers, quilts and blankets, destined for A.I. DuPont Childrens’ Hospital in Wilmington and Childrens Hospital of Philadelphia.

While warm and friendly, the work was clearly the priority, as table after table was filled with people making no-sew blankets and along the far wall, a line of sewing machines working to finish custom-made quilts. More than 100 blankets were made, along with 15 quilts.

Aside from the obvious good it does the greater community, Pocopson prinicipal Dr. Andrew McLaughlin said that the students benefit, too.

“We want to let them see this is a larger community, let them know there are other children out there, maybe not as fortunate as they are,” he said. Monday’s efforts are just part of a wider effort at the school, he added, to involve students in helping others in the community, noting the annual hat and glove drive among other efforts, which benefits disadvantaged students in the region.

Hundreds of students, staff and parents work to make blankets and quilts, Monday at Pocopson Elementary School.

At Hillendale, the warm and tasty aroma of freshly cooked soup filled the all-purpose room, as dozens of people worked to prepare food for those who might otherwise go hungry. According to Vicki Folmer, one of the vent’s organizers, 300 lunches were prepared for the Safe Harbor Shelter in West Chester, while 100 containers of delicious smelling soup were readied.

Donations to support the effort came in from all over. As an example, Barnard Orchards donated apples for the lunches, while some of the funds for Monday’s work came from the Hillendale Parent Teacher Organization — and there were so many different people and groups who helped out, it was impossible to identify them all. In past years, teachers and administrators — including Superintendent Sharon Parker — have donated raw materials for the soup out their own pockets.

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