Service Day Toolkit
Building community in the community by engaging residents of all ages in fun, hands-on projects that benefit local and global non-profits.
This is a video of the impact that our Service Club at Harriet Bishop Elementary had this school year.
The entrance to our Service Fair at City Hall in Savage.
At Service Day, we host a coin collection as a part of the WE organization's WE Create Change initiative. All of the money collected helps buy goats for WE villages in Kenya, so the families can sell the milk as a way to make a sustainable income. Every $50 buys a goat, so if someone donates $50 at Service Day, they receive a stuffed goat. We were able to raise enough money to buy 22 goats.
Two of our Service Club students giving Service Day wristbands to attendees. These wristbands say "I Made A Difference", and on the back "Savage, MN". These bands are meant to be community building, but they also serve as a free weekend pass to Lifetime Fitness, and other incentives like a free Timbit at Tim Horton's in Savage.
The mayor of Savage, Janet Williams. Mayor Williams is the largest supporter of this event, and has put many hours of her day to helping make Service Day a success.
Two service club students from Harriet Bishop Elementary. Our motto is "Young But Powerful!".
Visitors were able to pack bulk bags of rice into smaller ziplock bags that were then donated to a local food shelf.
We were able to have the Red Cross come to Service Day to do both an indoor and outdoor blood drive. They were able to collect 46 pints of blood!
Here, attendees are making stuffed baby toys for an organization called Bundles of Love.
This project station is making bookmarks for a non-profit that tutors low-income students in reading.
In this picture, elementary school students are teaching middle school students about the project station, and the non-profit that is benefitted.
Our three middle school students on our board. On the left is Aaden Spencer, one of the top volunteers on our committee who also helps lead a service club at his old elementary school. Center is Shrey Pothini (myself). I started Service Day when I was in fifth grade, but I also created service clubs in every elementary school and my middle school in my school district between grades 3-5. On the right is John Goettl, leader of his middle school service club as well as a top service day volunteer.
At our local senior center, "Jonny Pops" (frozen smoothies on a stick) are given to attendees as a treat for making a difference. Jonny Pops was founded in Minnesota, and the company's goal is to spread as much kindness as possible. On every popsicle stick, a cheerful and inspirational message is printed.
At the local senior housing, we have a project for Meals on Wheels. Attendees color white lunch bags to cheer up the people who receive meals from the organization. Residents of the senior housing complex were excited to work with youth and families, and youth enjoyed having conversations with the residents as well.
One of our projects at our event is decorating rocks with positive messages. These rocks are then placed around the city to spread cheer.
We host a shoe collection for a local non-profit that sells the shoes for $2 for children and $5 for adults. These shoes are sold from a bus that drives around the twin cities region in MN. After the shoes are sold, all of the money raised is put towards the organization's food shelf. The name of this cause is "Shoe Away Hunger". The bus was able to pick up shoes from our event, as well as sell shoes to people who attended Service Day.
We invited a local animal rescue shelter to the event so people could learn about the needs of the organization, as well as meet and pet the animals. After the event ended, 19 of the dogs had pre-adoption forms filled out.
One of our local schools came to advertise the use of rain barrels and how they can make a positive, environmental difference. They also gave away a free rain barrel at the event.
At our event, we have different buildings in our city campus that host projects. Here, one of our firemen is grilling food at our fire station for Service Day attendees to eat. EVERYTHING at our event is free, including meals and treats.
We asked our local police department to host a food drive to benefit a local food shelf. Our "Stuff A Squad Car" food collection was a hit with children, who were excited to meet law enforcement and put donated items in the car. We were able to collect over 5000 pounds of non-perishable food items that day.
Eligibility: Are you employed by T-Mobile or related to an employee of T-Mobile?
Website or social media url(s) (optional):
Link to a news clip about Service Day 2018: http://kstp.com/news/savage-middle-schooler-shrey-pothini--brings-community-together-to-help-others-service-day-saturday/4875330/?cat=12196
Commercial for Event: https://www.facebook.com/SavageTV/videos/1574867399248149/
Project Stage: Select the description below that best applies to your approach.
Growth (have moved past the very first activities; working towards the next level of expansion)
1. Personal Journey: What’s the story behind why you decided to start this project? NOTE: All applications must include a 1 minute video that answers: “I am stepping up to make change because..."
When I was three years old, I visited a homeless youth shelter in Minneapolis that my mom volunteered at. When I saw how these youth had very little items of their own, I decided I wanted to help. I started by collecting new bath towels on my birthday instead of presents. This past year, with the help of businesses and schools, I collected 950 new bath towels to last three shelters a year. Over time, I have collected over 3000 towels.
In third grade, I started a service club in my school to teach fellow students about needs in the community to get them passionate about volunteering. This year was the sixth year of the club, and we had over 85 students in grades K-5 involved. I have also started clubs in other schools in my district.
When I was in fifth grade, I expanded the project to the entire community, and called the youth led event, "Service Day Saturday."
2. The Problem: What problem are you helping to solve?
Often times, volunteer activities and exposure to local and global needs is presented to youth when they are in high school, sometimes middle school. The problem is that youth of ALL ages can be engaged in meaningful projects to help others but they don't get opportunities to learn and feel empowered. By providing this opportunity, I hope to inspire children of all ages to use their time, talents, or treasures to help others.
3. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.
Helping others can be fun, and my solution is to have a service fair, where entire cities can come together to do fun, simple, hands on activities that benefit local and global non-profits. Examples include a city-wide food drive, repacking bulk laundry soap into single load containers for homeless shelters, creating bead bracelet kits to provide entertainment for children in hospitals, collecting gently used books, and so much more. Participants travel from station to station to learn about a non-profit, then do an activity to help that non-profit. The hope is that people will be inspired to help these organizations on their own, throughout the year. By involving local government, businesses, schools, and community groups, there truly is a collective effort that can make a big impact. Also, this type of event will be free to those who attend, so that cost isn't a barrier to volunteering and helping others.
4. Example: Please walk us through a specific example of what happens when a person or group gets involved with your project.
Currently, when families and businesses are involved with our project they learn about needs in the community and do simple, hands-on service projects to benefit nonprofits that help stop the issue. There is a service fair at our event that has 12-15 service projects, and there is also lunch, dessert, and other activities for people to do. Everything at our event is free, so people are able to attend no matter what their background is. This all takes place on the Saturday of the weekend of Global Youth Service Day, hence the name Service Day Saturday.
Our hope is that we can create a kit that other cities can use to help them start their own day of service. This way, people are getting exposure to issues in the community and create a collective impact around the country and world in a similar way that we are. This type of event can be replicated in any city with passionate volunteers.
5. The X Factor: What is different about your project compared to other programs or solutions already out there?
While their are other service fairs in our country and even our state, not many are focused or led by youth. Our event is extremely unique because it is led by elementary (K-5) and middle school (6-8) students. We also put lots of effort into reaching out to families in our community with younger children. Our belief is that the younger someone starts learning make a positive impact, the better. At our event, we see children who haven't even turned one yet doing service projects. Although they might not completely understand what they are doing, it is something quite extraordinary and unique.
6. Impact: How has your project made a difference so far?
Service Day Saturday has brought around 3700 people to the event over the past four years (1500 this year). However, many more people are involved through work, school, or by hosting their own project or collection drive. We estimate over 5000 people were involved with Service Day this past year alone. On top of this, over 10,000 people were helped by the projects completed at our event.
Because we know how much of an impact Service Day has on the community, we want to be able to help other cities establish their own event. We think a toolkit with resources, information, and ideas on how to get a day of service started for other cities can not only create a larger collective impact, but also help the community spread volunteerism.
7. What’s Next: What are your ideas for taking your project to the next level?
Service Day Saturday has made huge collective impact in the local community and even in other parts of the globe. We know as youth, that not everybody believes children can make a difference. In our city, we have proven how young people can have an enormous impact, and we want to see that spread to other areas in our country and world.
Creating a day of service is hard, especially when you are making the event 100% free for attendees. We have had enough experience with planning this event, that we would like to pass on our knowledge by creating a toolkit other cities can use to make their own Service Day. This kit would be comprised of ideas for projects, ways to earn funds, how to structure their event, as well as more key information.
8. Future Support: What are the resources needed to make your vision a reality?
In order to make our vision a reality, we are in need of some key resources. Money is one of the main factors that plays into creating a toolkit for others to use, as well as technology and marketing support. We also need help creating a social media platform.
Now that we are taking our original day of service and trying to add it to other cities via the use of a toolkit, we are dabbling into a more business like area. Although we are frequently involved with contacting, meeting, and persuading adults in business, we still need help. Mentorship is the biggest help we could get to help us create this kit. Adults who have connections in the business world, and can help us make our vision a reality is needed.
9. Finances: If applicable, have you mobilized any of the following resources so far?
Donations less than $100
Donations between $100-$1k
10. Ripple Effect: Please share some ideas of how you could partner with other changemakers or involve other young people as leaders in making a difference.
Currently, we work closely with members of our community to create Service Day Saturday in our city. Most of the event is planned by our city administrators, organizations, youth (ages 5-18), and other members of the community. Many others are involved through schools, work, or in other ways like hosting collection drives. Our hope, is that we can share our impact with other cities, so they can create their own day of service for their residents. As of now, our town has every school, government building, and many businesses and organizations involved. Not only does this help our event, but it also builds a strong sense of community. This is another reason why we want to spread this event to other places.
Help Us Support Diversity! Part 1 [optional] Which of the following categories do you identify with?
Asian (for example: Chinese, Filipino, Indian, Vietnamese, Korean, Japanese, Pakistani) (9)
Help Us Support Diversity! Part 2 [optional] Do you identify as part of any of the following underrepresented communities?
Communities of color
Religious minority (non-Christian)
How did you hear about this challenge?
Referral: If you discovered the Challenge thanks to an organization or person other than Ashoka or T-Mobile, who was it?
We discovered the Challenge from an advertisement from one of our local radio stations, 94.5 KS95. This radio station actually has supported our event by coming out and playing music during the busiest hours of the service fair.