For GAC students, service is second nature (the class of 2018 alone volunteered nearly 20,000 hours during their high school years). Each year, GAC sends hundreds of students on over 20 mission trips. Many are during school breaks which the students give up in order to serve. But what drives these students to be Jesus’s hands and feet both locally and abroad?
Sophomore Audrey Geib, who is working with GAC students to fill boxes for Operation Christmas Child, says that her motivation is the children. “I am very grateful for all of my blessings; I go to a good school, I have a good family who loves me, and I am provided for. For many of us, we don't think twice about Christmas. We wake up on Christmas morning and we know that there are gifts under our trees waiting for us. If we woke up and saw no gifts we might feel upset as if something had been taken from us. These wonderful children don't expect Christmas gifts like some of us. Giving the gift of Christmas to these kids takes very little, but to them, these little shoe boxes are the best Christmas ever they could get.”
GAC’s annual blood drive was led by Junior Anna Clapp. “There are so many in the world who are in desperate need of blood and there is something we can do about it. It has been so much fun having this wonderful opportunity as it has been such an honor to see people donating to an issue I care so deeply about. One day, I hope to become a pediatric nurse, so getting a glimpse into the medical world while serving others in the process is such an amazing experience.” While her sights are on the medical field, running the blood drive took an entirely different set of skills. “I began promoting the blood drive a month or two ago, through setting up posters around the school, posting on social media, and bringing in candy to draw attention to the subject. It took a good while for the word to spread; there were only a couple of donors signed up for the first couple weeks. As of now, almost all of the slots are filled, which is great news!”
Freshman Abigail Parasca participated in the local service trips during the week of learning excursions in October. Over the course of a week, she and a group of students and teacher Lori Reed served teachers at Meadowcreek Elementary, helped refugee women and their children at Peace of Thread, sorted and packed books at Books for Africa, and worked with adults with developmental disabilities at Hi-Hope Service Center. She chose this trip because of her love to serve others. “I hope to go back sometime because most of the people I served were very happy and I would like to be happy with them again.”
Junior Kaitlyn Williams is running a drive where students can bring in their unused Halloween candy to provide treats for an orphanage in Ukraine. The Middle School has run this event for the past four years. This year, under Kaitlyn’s leadership, the Middle and High School have joined forces for this great event. “I am so glad I was able to extend the arm of GAC's service all the way to Ukraine.”
Service at GAC doesn’t end with the students. Faculty members are closely involved. Dr. Brad Denton, English teacher has served with students helping refugees in the Czech Republic, tutoring at-risk children in the Bronx, New York, rebuilding a youth center in Florida, building homes for disaster relief in Guatemala, and working with orphaned children in Mexico. “There is no better opportunity for students than helping others in need, and I am proud to work for a school that recognizes this.” Dr. Denton will be taking a group of students to Guatemala this year. This group includes Seniors Trey Kenworthy and Spencer Yates, both of whom have gone on the trip before. Trey shares that he had a passion for serving the country from the minute they got on the bus ride from the airport to San Raymundo. His favorite memory from the trip was from the very first day when they built the foundation of the house which included pouring the concrete. “I knew our team was determined to work together when I saw each individual pour their heart into making the concrete.” When asked how this trip affected him, Trey shares that it’s beyond what he could ever have imagined. “Guatemala is on my mind weekly and I will never forget the locals we met and made relationships with, and I pray that I will see them again this year.”