Hannibal High School seniors spend full last day of school helping community

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HANNIBAL, Mo. — Around 125 seniors Hannibal High School spent their last full day of school volunteering around the community at the second annual Day of Caring.

One group of students cooked 60 homemade freezer meals for local foster families, funded by the Riedel Foundation. In the kitchen at Immanuel Baptist Church in Hannibal, the students cooked 20 of each meal, which included baked ziti, chicken pot pie and ham and broccoli tater tot casserole.

Denise Damron, director of the United Way of the Mark Twain Area, said this act of service by the students will be a big help for foster families who are often juggling doctor appointments, sports and other obligations.

“Foster families have a lot of their plates. They are taking in children who many times have special needs and extra obligations. That can make prioritizing family meals a challenge,” she said. “By providing wrap-around support such as a meal, that makes life a little bit easier for those families.”

Students also worked in the garden at Hannibal’s Victory Over Hunger Garden, did spring cleaning at Jim’s Journey Museum, worked at the food bank at Douglass Community Services, helped at the Salvation Army Family Store, among other things.

In doing so, the students made community connections that will hopefully last a lifetime. 

Andrea Campbell, communications specialist for Hannibal Public Schools, said the number of volunteers increased from 100 last year to 125 this year.

“The graduating class this year is around 170, so that is more than half of the class,” she said. 

Campbell said school officials wanted to give graduates an opportunity to create a legacy as a class and help channel their excitement for graduation into what she hopes will be lifelong connections with nonprofit organizations.

“We hope students can recognize that they can be involved, no matter what age,” she said. “They can volunteer and dedicate time to making that lasting impact.”

Jackson Parker and LaPrince Durking were among the senior volunteers. After they finished removing bushes and painting railings at Veterans Elementary, they joined other student volunteer groups to help.

“We were just out trying to get out and help the community in any way we can,” Durking said. “After we finished up early at Veterans, we just decided to go around and see what else we can do.”

Durking’s favorite job of the day was working at Victory Over Hunger Gardens where they planted and picked lettuce. They cleaned and packaged the lettuce at Douglass Community Center.

The Victory of Hunger Garden is planted and maintained by volunteers. The produce then goes to local food pantries. Volunteers planted tomatoes, peppers and squash. They drove posts into the ground, put up string to support tomato plants, and planted a pollinator patch on the west of the garden. They picked up trash and rock around the garden.

Parker and Jackson also helped kids at Mark Twain Elementary learn to hula hoop. Parker said the kids got a little distracted, rolling the hula hoops on the ground, but otherwise they were quick learners.

He also mentioned his own hula hoop skills weren’t what they used to be.

“I have lost some of my touch on that,” Parker said with a laugh.

Durking will attend Cornell University in Mount Vernon, Iowa, next fall, and Parker will attend Missouri University to study business.

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