The Gurney Service-Learning Club Makes a Difference

Third graders Parker Lower, Liam Dixon, Reid and Julliette Tucholka from Gurney Elementary School presented about the Gurney Service-Learning Club at the Chagrin Falls Board meeting last week.

According to Dale Tschappat, school counselor and co-advisor of the club, the third grade Gurney Service-Learning Club was started back in 2004–long before these students were even born. The club’s mission is for students to learn how to serve others by volunteering and giving their time, friendship, talent, and selves. The goals of this club are to build leadership skills, take action to improve the community, build friendships, learn about the world in an interactive way, and gain a sense of satisfaction from doing something meaningful. Students achieve these goals by partaking in service projects in the community. 

One of the service projects the club did this past year was Pennies for Patients. Pennies for Patients is a charity event to help those with blood cancer. The club’s members met before and after school to create posters to advertise the upcoming fundraiser as well as count the donated coins to record how much money each class collected. Gurney students and staff helped raise $5,800 for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. The class that collected the most money got a pizza party sponsored by Augie’s Pizza. 

In December, the club held a food drive for the Greater Cleveland Food Bank. More than 400 pounds of food were donated.  

Tschappat’s favorite service activity is when club members visit Hamlet Senior Living Community. Students visited the Hamlet community for Halloween, where they dressed up, ate candy, and played bingo. During one of their other visits, the students thanked the veterans who live there for their service and listened to the stories they had to share about that time of their lives. The students love building these connections. 

And the club has proved that these connections truly do last a lifetime. Courtney Mooney, a reading teacher and the other co-advisor, was able to reunite with one of her Chagrin Falls teachers who now lives at Hamlet through a service-learning club visit. Moments like this prove how important this work is for the community. 

“Service-learning was central to my own education,” said Board member Dr. Robert E. Schleper, Jr.  “It makes me so proud to see all of these young faces here tonight and it makes me hopeful for the world that they will build.”