Community Connections

On Friday, September 9, HDCH hosted the annual ‘Grade 9 Day.’ This day acts as an orientation of sorts to Grade 9 students who don’t know much about the school or each other. It allows students to informally meet other students in their grade, socialize over fun games and activities, and serve our community at various locations in our city. In essence, Grade 9 Day offers HDCH a unique opportunity to cast the school’s mission to new students in a practical, hands-on way.

The service portion of the day is particularly essential, because it gives students a first glimpse into a huge part of their character building.

“Part of HDCH’s mission is to guide students into a life of service to God and his people,” says Arienne Apers, Educator at HDCH. “Although students only volunteer for an hour, they are exposed to what much of their HDCH journey will involve–selfless service and love.”

“By helping people, we hope that our students learn the value of people as image bearers of God, no matter how rich or poor,” says Brad Heidbuurt, Athletics Director. “We hope that students develop humility and appreciate the gifts that they have been given.”

“It gets kids thinking about Christ’s model of selflessness and service, and it contextualizes their faith-informed learning when they return to the classroom.” –James Apers, Director of Student Services.

“We want our students’s learning to make the city and the world a better place, so getting them into the city, in places that serve vulnerable populations sets the tone that we care, and that we as a school think it is important to be connected to and serving our city.” –Christy Bloemendal, Vice-principal

Our hope is that through their years here they will have the opportunity to build on this one service day through the project work they do that is very often connected to the community.

Students volunteered at four different locations: City Kidz, Good Shepherd Centre, Living Rock and Salvation Army.

City Kidz
Students prepared materials for the upcoming season, including: wall displays, bean bags and art kits. They also cleaned chairs, bins and surfaces. A number of students also worked on outdoor clean up and weeding.

“City Kidz depends on the collective manpower of our students to prepare for their fall programming. Without our students, they would have to divert staff from their important planning activities to get things ready. Alternately, volunteering at City Kidz gives our students a sense of the disparities in our city. It opens their eyes to their relative affluence, and it introduces them to the idea that their service makes a difference in the lives of others.” — James Apers, Director of Student Services

Good Shepherd Centre
Christopher Noon, Community Facilitator at Good Shepherd Centre, shares his account of the day:

“The work that the students did truly made a difference in many ways. That morning I indicated to the students that our linen department and shoe department did not have many choices or options for our guests that were here to shop. I also mentioned that our linen section had not been stocked in three days. Through the fruits of their labour, they sorted and prepared every single article of linen and shoes; enough to supply our guests for days to come!

Our volunteers are so important and valued to our organization. Without volunteers, the work and effort of our program would not succeed. We are truly blessed and grateful for all who are willing to give their time and energy to us.”

“The Good Shepherd had not had a group of volunteers in for quite a time, so they were relying on our help to sort and organize a large quantity of donated items. They knew our school had a reputation to be hard working, and so they couldn’t wait to have us support them. The group of grade 9’s did not disappoint–they joyfully and diligently worked together to get it done.” — Jami Vandermarel, Educational Assistant

Living Rock Ministries
Students were split between the kitchen and the food bank. Those in the kitchen were assisting their cook, Daniel, in chopping onions and prepping containers for the food truck which was going to Super Crawl that weekend.

The students that were in the food bank were split into two teams. One team was sorting through donated clothing (separating the good clothing from the clothing with rips or stains), and the other team was wiping down shelves and cleaning bins used for food storage.

“The work in the kitchen was a gigantic help to Daniel. Super Crawl is an incredibly busy weekend, and having as many hands to help with the prep took the load off of Daniel. Sorting through the clothing in our food bank was also much needed and allowed us to make room for newer clothing. Because of the large number of students helping in the food bank, the task of sorting clothes took far less time, as did the monthly task of cleaning bins. Having the students complete these tasks allowed our senior volunteers and the food bank coordinator to get essential administrative duties completed over the weekend instead of sorting through those jobs.” — Kelly Dekoning, Volunteer Coordinator at Living Rock Ministries

Salvation Army
Students organized and boxed stacks of food and personal hygiene items that had been donated.

“Scott Gross, Family Service Worker at Salvation Army, gushed about our students for their positivity, their work ethic, and their politeness. Our students helped them do a ton of work that would have taken the regular volunteers a very long time to do.” –Sara Whetstone, Educator at HDCH