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Chester County Press

A day of giving back in Unionville-Chadds Ford schools

01/18/2016 12:24PM ● By J. Chambless

Students sorted donated books, toys and other items at Chadds Ford Elementary School.

By John Chambless
Staff Writer

The spirit of service to others was everywhere in the Unionville-Chadds Ford School District on the morning of Jan. 18 as families took part in the annual Martin Luther King, Jr., Day of Service.

The school holiday was a chance for children, parents and staff members to pitch in and help dozens of nonprofits and community groups in Chester County with almost 40 service projects, large and small.

Students sort food at Unionville High School to be donated to the Kennett Food Cupboard.

 The day began just after 8 a.m. at Unionville High School, where students and staff members checked expiration dates on donated food items before sorting the food into categories and loading the cartons into a waiting tractor trailer. The loaded truck was to be driven to the Kennett Food Cupboard in the evening. Collection boxes had been set up at all the district's schools for the previous month to collect food donations. In the high school cafeteria, the students worked quickly and efficiently, filling large cartons with food as soon as the boxes could be taped together.

The low temperatures on Monday morning kept Patton Middle School students from taking part in a clean-up of Anson B. Nixon Park, but over at Hillendale Elementary School, district superintendent John Sanville – who usually volunteers for the outdoor project – was helping prepare 300 lunches and 100 quarts of soup that were to be delivered to West Chester and West Grove later in the day. At one long table, children and parents decorated lunch bags and wove paper placemats to accompany the soup and lunches. Adding stickers or written greetings, the children beamed as each art project was completed.

Students and parents made paper placemats at Hillendale Elementary School.

 Other students spooned snack mix into bags, made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, or counted out cookies to be bagged and dropped into the lunches. There were juice boxes to add as well. Near the door were cartons full of donated backpacks and school supplies that were destined for La Communidad Hispana in Kennett Square.

At Chadds Ford Elementary School, young students excitedly sorted donated children's books, pajamas, stuffed animals and dental care kits that were to be given to students at the Chester County Family Academy School in West Chester. The donations were to be dropped off at the school later in the day.

But there were many more ways to serve on Monday, including visiting residents at the Pocopson Home, the Adult Care of Chester County, Jenners Pond, the Kennett Senior Center, and the Twin Pines Health Care Center. There were clean-up projects at the Church of the Open Door, Family Promise of Southern Chester County, Friends Home in Kennett, His Mission, La Communidad Hispana, Luther House and the Tick-Tock Early Learning Center. There were books to be moved at the Kennett Public Library, medical supplies to sort at Project C.U.R.E., and playtime to be shared with students in YMCA daycare.

At every participating school, children were eagerly arriving all morning – usually dragging their parents by the hand because they couldn't wait to get started. Chatting, hugging each other and vying for coveted jobs – particularly sorting the warm chocolate-chip cookies at Hillendale – the students beamed with pride as they enjoyed giving to others.

To contact Staff Writer John Chambless, email

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