Middle School students serve community through Falcons for Change

Middle School students serve community through Falcons for Change
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Five years ago, Faribault Middle School faced one of those good kinds of problems: Too many students wanted to be involved in community service.

Only 30 students could get involved by being voted members of the student council, but more than twice that many appeared on the ballot. That led to the school creating a new club called Falcons for Change. Now more than 200 students are part of the club, which has a goal of providing service to those who need it in the school, in the community and throughout the world.

Students don’t have to meet any requirements to be part of the club, they just have to want to help others.

“We had a lot of students who wanted to get involved and a lot of things we wanted to do to help out in the elementary schools and other places in Faribault like the senior centers, so we just said ‘You didn’t get on student council, what do you think of this?’” middle school counselor and Falcons for Change advisor Brent Hawkins said. “The club is something different. It gives some of these students experiences they can’t get on their own time or during the school day.”

In addition to volunteer activities it participates in throughout the year, like working with students at McKinley Early Childhood Center and with English language learners at the Faribault Education Center, the club also plans activities that correspond with monthly themes. On Oct. 12, students attended a Student Leadership Summit in Farmington sponsored by Special Olympics Minnesota. The summit’s goal is to build bridges amongst students with and without disabilities. One way the club is achieving that goal is by working with the middle school's adaptive physical education program. In March, the club will raise funds for Special Olympics Minnesota by once again participating in the Cool School Polar Plunge. 

November is Military Appreciation Month and Falcons for Change will spent the month collecting food items, both for military care packages and for the local food shelf leading up to Thanksgiving.

The club also breaks into smaller groups for projects such as making blankets it can donate to hospitals and shelters, or supplying local seniors with valentines and May Day baskets. Members can earn additional service hours outside of organized activities by doing things on their own like helping out at their church or raking their neighbor’s lawn. One student is planning to make homemade chew toys to donate to an animal shelter.

“In a lot of activities they have ownership in what they do. They’re asked what they would like to do, they get to pick and we just kind of help with the supplies and the transportation,” Hawkins said. “I think it’s a wonderful way to create connectedness and citizenship. It’s real-world, firsthand experience and it’s action, not just discussion. They’re actually doing it. I gives them an opportunity to make a difference in their community in a positive way.”

If you have any ideas for volunteer opportunities, contact Falcons for Change advisors and FMS counselors Brent Hawkins at 507-333-6351 or April Coppess at 507-333-6396.

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