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Students receive a lesson in helping community

Special Photo. Students at Gwinnett Christian Academy participate in a schoolwide day of community service Friday. Third-grader Jotham Yacob, left, and third-grade teacher Rick Carlson prepare boxes for Operation Christmas Child.

Special Photo. Students at Gwinnett Christian Academy participate in a schoolwide day of community service Friday. Third-grader Jotham Yacob, left, and third-grade teacher Rick Carlson prepare boxes for Operation Christmas Child.

SNELLVILLE -- Students at Gwinnett Christian Academy participated in a schoolwide day of service Friday.

This was the first year all of the students spent a day involved in community service projects, Headmaster Dan Hodges said.

"Part of our school's mission is to impact the community at large," Hodges said. "... We want to teach our kids the importance of helping others."

While some students remained on campus to work on projects such as packing boxes for Operation Christmas Child, creating Thanksgiving baskets for needy families and making ornaments for widows, others left campus for projects such as cleaning up Briscoe Park and working at Oasis Church and Sanctuary Baptist Church.

"This has been a year for service, because this has been a year that needed service," said teacher Debbie Forbes, who sponsors the school's Community Service Involvement, or CSI Club. "It's great to give a whole day just for this."

Lawrenceville resident Taylor Burke, an eighth-grader, helped pack Operation Christmas Child boxes full of toys and necessities like socks and soap that will be sent to children in India and Africa.

"I think it's really great (to do a project like Operation Christmas Child) because all of these kids don't have as much as we do," Taylor said. "It's just showing that we do care."

Third-grader Jotham Yacob of Snellville made sure to include items like crayons, toy cars, games and books when he was packing boxes.

"I think it's good to get toys for poor people," he said.

All of the projects the students were involved in -- from cleaning to giving gifts -- were an extension of the school's ministry, said Roger Bice, the fourth-grade teacher.

"We are a Christian organization, and we want to get out in the community and affect the community," Bice said.

Founded in 1999, Gwinnett Christian Academy serves 110 students in kindergarten through 11th grade. The school plans to add 12th grade next year.