“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others” – Mahatma Ghandi

Embodying Ghandi’s philosophy, students at Excel Academy North were in the holiday spirit this fall as they took part in a “Day of Service” to help their community. The school partnered with various local organizations to place students in projects around the city.

To benefit Feast of Justice, a local nonprofit addressing hunger, students sorted groceries, stocked shelves and put bags together for food distribution. Another group sorted through fruits and vegetables that were being sent to those in need by Sharing Excess, an organization working to fight food insecurity and address the root causes of hunger in Philadelphia.

Other students worked for Habitat for Humanity ReStores, cleaning household items, moving inventory, and assembling furniture that will be used in Habitat houses, while another group raked leaves and picked up trash for the Philadelphia Parks & Recreation department.

Ms. Gina Gibson, director of student services, Excel Academy North, paired some students

with Ms. Sakinah Love of the nonprofit Redeemed for a Cause to create toiletry care packages, with inspirational notes inside. The baskets were donated to Turning Points for Children’s Project FAM! family support services branch to help support the teen parents in the Education Leading to Employment and Career Training (ELECT) program.

“Being a part of conversations with students to plan and give back to the community motivated a sense of change and self-discovery within North,” Gibson said. “It has been a honor to be around my students experiencing first hand a sense of belonging and helping others”.

Khalia Smith, a senior at Excel Academy North and a teenage mother to her 1-year-old daughter, was instrumental in planning the event and working with Redeemed for a Cause. “Service and giving back to the community is so important to me,” she said. “It’s important for teens like myself who may need a little extra help to have the necessary personal items they need every day.”

“This was such a great day to honor our community and to give back,” said Kevin D. Marx, M.Ed., director, Excel Academy North. “The students had so much fun and they walked away with valuable lessons in importance of helping others.“