Carroll students clean up tornado debris on Wednesday in Dayton. NOLAN SIMMONS / STAFF

Carroll students in summer service program help tornado victims

A group of Carroll High School students in a summer service program this week helped a local family clean up damage surrounding their home from the Memorial Day tornadoes.

The annual Carroll Christian Service Work Camp gives students the opportunity to live as if they were homeless for a week, while they are also serving the community by going around to different agencies throughout the city.

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“It takes the place of our second semester religion class. It’s a week where we stay and sleep at Immaculate Conception. During the day, we just go out to different places and do some service,” said incoming Carroll senior Michael Taylor.

The group goes to sites throughout the area. For example, they go to the House of Bread, where they prepare and serve meals, and to the Mother Mary Mission, where they help with their greenhouse community garden.

The service camp began in 1998 or 1999, said Michael Franz, Carroll director of communications..

“It’s something that is open only to seniors that have to go through an interview process and apply to be accepted into the program,” said Franz.

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The goal of the program is to show incoming seniors not only the types of needs within the Dayton community, but also some of the good things that are going on as well.

“They get to see not only the need, but also that there are people here in the community who are helping out, trying to fill those needs,” said Franz.

Some students had been looking forward to this senior-year experience for years.

“When I was in eighth grade, I toured Carroll, and a lot of the seniors were talking about it. From the beginning, I knew that I really wanted to do this because I wanted to do a lot of service in my community as it is. I just really wanted to see this as a new experience that not a lot of people get to have, where I could make an impact,” said incoming senior Shea Hary.

The destructive Memorial Day tornadoes came when this group of students were preparing to help the Dayton community.

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“Today we’ve been helping the Wilhelm family clean up from the tornado because they were very much impacted. A lot of their trees were torn down, so we were helping pick up the debris and putting them where trucks would eventually come and take them away,” said Hary.

The family affected had spent many years involved in the Carroll community, so when the school heard of their damage, they were determined to help in some way.

“I’ve been clearing out a lot of sticks and brush today, helping the cleanup crew to get it out of here and put it in bigger trucks and get it really cleaned up,” said Taylor. “I wasn’t personally affected by the tornadoes, but a lot of people close to me were, so I understand the situation.”

Teaching this group of students about empathy is a major role in this week of service.

“We want the students to see the needs of others in our own community,” explained Franz. “We want them to experience what we call servant leadership, that to lead, you have to be a servant, and you have to help people and do the right things.”

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