Middle School Community Service

“What does love look like? It has the hands to help others. It has the feet to hasten to the poor and needy. It has eyes to see misery and want. It has the ears to hear the sighs and sorrows of men. That is what love looks like.”
- Saint Augustine
middle school service

At Austin Prep, we are dedicated to the formation of the whole child: enlightening the mind, but never at the expense of engaging the heart. One of the three core values of the Augustinian Order is caritas - charity. It is through this charism that Austin Prep community members are able to take what they’ve learned on campus and animate it through acts for others in the community beyond Willow Street. 

Through the Austin Prep Service Program, Middle School students experience and share God’s love in concrete ways through their time, talents, words, and actions in ministry to others. Students exercise social responsibility in exploring causes within their community and identifying ways in which they can contribute to supporting the common good. Most importantly, service provides an opportunity to encounter people in love and charity. As a result, service cultivates students' capacity for empathy and exposes students to the perspectives of others in our community.

By being intentional about their service work and being given a space to process their impact and insight, students are able to appreciate the difference that they have made and fully embrace the Austin Prep Mission Statement's charge to be "hands to serve."

In the 2020-2021 academic year, the Middle School collectively logged over 650 hours of service. Students were invited to reflect on their intention of working on a particular project, to keep their hearts and minds open to the impact their actions had, and reflect on the insights gained about fellow people, about challenges in society, about causes and organizations, and about themselves. 

Here are several examples of the kinds of work Middle School students completed in the midst of a global pandemic:

  • In partnership with the efforts of the Boston Alliance for Catholic Education, a number of students hand-crafted dozens of Valentine, Saint Patrick, and Easter cards for the retired Sisters of Saint Joseph of Boston and the retired Jesuit Priests at Campion Center. Bennett Money '26 likewise wrote letters to the retired Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate priests living in community in Tewksbury.

  • Alex Vigorito ‘27 learned about an organization called Lasagna Love, a grassroots effort that pairs families in need of food with an individual who commits to making and delivering a warm meal. Fellow “Lasagna Mamas and Papas” like Vann Burkhart ‘26, Sophia Christo ‘26, and Owen Sperling ‘25 followed Alex's lead in perfecting their bechamel and bolognese sauces and prepare a warm meal for a family in need.

  • Cradles to Crayons works with over 60,000 families, individuals, community groups and companies to serve over 200,000 children every year. A volunteer shift in The Giving Factory Warehouse involves hands-on processing of the donated goods that flow in on a regular basis. The work is plentiful - and so are the Middle School students who have volunteered alongside classmates and family members to inspect, sort, and package donations to ultimately be distributed to children in the Boston area. The group included: Miles Bhuta '27, Wyatt Langway '25, Eliza Martin '25, Paige Martin '27, Izzy Murphy '27, Sofiya Radochia '26, Sarah Sampson '26, Owen White '25, and Tatum White '26. Eliza shared this about her work: “These children do not have all the resources that I have such as food, clothes, and education. I think it is important to support the less fortunate people in my community, because in the end we are all in the same society.”

  • Kenna Sullivan ‘27 created colorful posters of gratitude for frontline workers through the Kindness Collaborative.

  • On Memorial Day, Emerson Byrne ‘26 handed out flags to the families of veterans and decorated memorials in the Oak Grove Cemetery of Medford and the Immaculate Conception Cemetery of Lawrence to help families honor their deceased heroes and loved ones.

  • Siblings Isabella Bianco '27 and Nicholas Bianco '26 spent a morning packaging boxes of food for a local food bank to distribute to families. Nicholas shared this insight: "Be generous to others; no act of kindness is too big or too small, your action DOES matter."

  • Meg Callahan '25 organized a drive for goods that enabled her to create Blessings Bags for people who are homeless. The bags included water, socks, snacks, and a handwritten note.

  • My Brother’s Table in Lynn will see a number of Middle School students and their families volunteer over the February break. Braeddon Dyment ‘26 shared this about his decision to volunteer there: “One of the most important Corporal Works of Mercy is to feed the hungry. When I realized how many kids and families were in need of food, I felt compelled to help the hungry.” Braeddon will be making 25 dinners and desserts.

  • Colin Walsh ‘25 and Michael Thomas ‘25 used a “good old-fashioned snow day” in February to volunteer at Bread of Life Food Pantry in Malden. After shoveling the driveway so that the trucks of food could unload their cargo, Colin and Michael each packaged 150 parcels of food for families in need.

  • For the past several years, Austin Prep has partnered with Artis Senior Living, a residence for people with Alzheimer's and dementia in Reading. Sophia Fanuele ‘26 led a team of fellow students in making Valentine’s cards for all the residents this month. The group, including Liam Deane ‘27, Anna Klovee ‘25, Mia Romansik ‘27, and Shreya Soni ‘27.

The Austin Service Program requirements for Middle School students are as follows:

  • Grade 6 students must complete 2 hours of service during that school year. 

  • Grade 7 students must complete 3 hours of service during that school year.

  • Grade 8 students must complete 4 hours of service during that school year. 

These service experiences are embedded within the Advisory Program. Students explore, design, and request approval for service opportunities in the first quarter. Students then complete their service work and reflect on the impact and insight from that experience in the second and third quarters. All service must be completed and verification submitted no later than March 25, 2022.