Shady Side Academy students honor Martin Luther King with day of service |
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Shady Side Academy students honor Martin Luther King with day of service

Tawnya Panizzi

Bitterly cold temperatures didn’t keep nearly 175 Shady Side Academy students from contributing time to community projects for the Martin Luther King Day of Service on Jan. 21.

Despite weather in the single digits and a wind chill advisory, students and staff engaged in hands-on projects for the school’s ninth annual event at six locations including the H.J. Heinz campus of the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System in O’Hara.

Other groups that benefited from student efforts included Beverly’s Birthdays , Center for Victims , Wilkinsburg Community Ministry , Catholic Charities of Pittsburgh , Support Our Troops , Family House and Encompass Health Rehabilitation Hospital of Harmarville .

“Martin Luther King Day is a special day where we try to all come together to remember the point of all of this, which is service to our community, thinking about others and trying to get out and do something for others,” said Interim Academy President Amy Nixon.

The aim is to educate students on social issues and was organized by SSA’s Director of Equity, Inclusion and Community Relations Lillian Grate.

About 70 volunteers, including students in grades 6-12, set out across the city to Family House locations in the East End to prepare a homemade meal of pasta and meatballs for patients and families who are visiting Pittsburgh for medical treatment. Another group spent the morning at the rehab facility in Harmar, visiting with patients and creating art. A third group spent the morning at the VA Healthcare campus in O’Hara, playing bingo with and singing for veterans.

Younger students completed kid-friendly service projects that included assembling birthday treat bags for homeless children served by Beverly’s Birthdays; packing care bags for kids attending family court through the Center for Victims; making blankets and snack bags for Catholic Charities warming stations; making placemats for seniors served by Wilkinsburg Community Ministry; and decorating custom wrappers for Hershey bars to be delivered to military serving overseas for Support Our Troops.

Shady Side Academy hosted its first MLK Day of Service in 2011, and each year since, hundreds of students, parents, faculty and staff have come together to make an impact in the community.

Tawnya Panizzi is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Tawnya at 412-782-2121, ext. 2, [email protected] or via Twitter @tawnyatrib.

SSA sophomore Mark Fire plays bingo with World War II veteran Ken McDowell at the VA in O’Hara.
SSA Country Day School fifth- grader Ahmeena Anthony fills a bag with birthday party supplies to be donated to Beverly’s Birthdays.
SSA Junior School second- grader Mikayla Hornezes (left) and her mom, Chrmayne Hornezes, decorate bags that were filled with snacks and donated to Catholic Charities warming stations. SSA Junior School second-grader Maryn Lang (right) looks on.