It’s the season for giving and Thornapple Kellogg High School students do it big on the last day before winter break.
For several years, the day has been designated as Service Learning Day. Students make several different items, such as sleeping bags for the homeless, gift bags for veterans, lunch bags for Kids Food Basket, intravenous bag decorations for children at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital, to give to the community.
“It’s fun to make something that is functional,” said senior Heather Price, who was planning to decorate intravenous bags for children at Helen DeVos Children’s Hospital. “We do so many different things that help people in the community mentally and physically.”
Before the day, students are asked to donate toothbrushes, personal hygiene products and other items to fill bags. They are get points for each item they bring in, then given prizes if they reach certain levels.
“It’s one of my favorite days of the school year,” senior Hailey Strimpel said. “We do things for the community as a school.”
The students also heard speakers from Michigan Blood, the American Cancer Society, Barry County United Way and Paws with a Cause.
The day started with a rousing assembly by spoken word artists and motivational speakers Kirk Latimer and Gabriel Giron, who are known as Kinetic Affect. The told students about their backgrounds iof drug dealing, suicides of friends, abuse, cancer and never believing in themselves. By age 16, Giron was a drug dealer. Latimer saw five friends commit suicide — and they all had drugs in their bodies that he supplied.
“I became a monster to protect myself,” Latimer said. “I hated everybody because I hated myself.”
Both picked themselves up and decided to follow their heart and become spoken word poets, performing at poetry slams and even landing on America’s Got Talent.
Their message today is about giving back to the community, not comparing oneself to others, not defining success as money and popularity and following passions. “This is foranyone out there who’s been called crazy for following their hearts,” Latimer said of the breakout sessions they had with students during the day.