DeVry Advantage Academy High School
Our Service Learning Club at DeVry University Advantage Academy has made great strides this year in their effort to educate and serve the Chicagoland area in the fight against hunger. Over the course of the school year at our weekly Wednesday meetings, the students investigated community issues around which they may want to create an event or project. After learning about the many needs communities face they decided that hunger was a problem that did not get the attention it deserved in our Chicago Community. The students wanted to revise and reinvent a project done in a previous year in the hopes of expanding its purpose and improving the end result. They students decided on an event that not only directly addressed issues of hunger through donations, but also an event that would serve in educating and creating awareness among the student body concerning hunger in Chicago as well as across the nation and world. After exploring possible options to aid them in their endeavor, the students decided to create an after school event they dubbed “Hunger Games” after the young adult text by Suzanne Collins.
In preparation for their event the Service Learning Club students researched and learned about the many faces of hunger and the facts and statistics concerning malnutrition in Chicagoland and beyond. The students contacted and worked with several food pantries to understand what sorts of foods were in high demand, and which areas of the city were most in need. They decided to model the Hunger Games event after the games in the book where students could donate food to earn their “district” points for a sports tournament completely designed, organized, and executed by students. The organization and preparation process was a huge endeavor, but our students were persistent and met their deadlines—a huge accomplishment considering DUAA student take both high school and college classes simultaneously.
In the weeks leading up to the Hunger Games event, Service Learning Club students created a written project proposal to be approved by the school principal and the president of the university. After approval was awarded, the club organized groups to create advertisements, identify the pantries where donations would be taken and the acceptable items for donations, as well as to prepare and organize the actual tournament details and events. As the students worked to create teams for Hunger Games and the stations in which teams would compete against each other for points, the club wanted to ensure that their message concerning hunger was not overshadowed by the hype of the event. Therefore, they decided to include a trivia portion of the tournament where teams could gain points by answering questions about hunger. This way the student body could learn about hunger and malnutrition through the trivia, and the end goal of raising awareness and educating people was achieved. The members of Service Learning Club worked hard to gather equipment and set up the event. They also took it upon themselves to run the event and each station rather than be participants in the games. To create hype and excitement throughout the student body, the Service Learning Club members created costumes modeled after those in the novel to wear on the day of the event. In fact the event was so popular, that the club is hoping to make this an annual event where the previous year’s donation number is broken every subsequent year. This year the Service Learning Club’s Hunger Games event achieved a record high number of donations at over 450 items, tripling the number of donations from the previous year. In addition, more than half the student body participated in the event up from only twenty-five students last year. After the event all donations were taken to the Greater Chicago Food Depository, and the event was considered a great success by both the students and the faculty.
Overall, the fact that the Service Learning Club members at DUAA did not take the easy route (by participating in an existing event, or visiting a soup kitchen, or by bringing food to a shelter) speaks volumes about their work ethic, their mindset, and their enthusiasm for community service. In this case the students were willing to go the extra mile and commit extra time to create something amazing and leave a lasting impression not only on their fellow classmates, but on their community as well.
Over 400 hundred items that the student researched are in high need for the food pantry.