By Chris Fish
BREVARD -- Wednesday, Nov. 20, was no ordinary school day for the students at Melbourne Central Catholic.
With nearly 600 students and faculty in tow, members of the school traded in their books and pencils for shovels and paint brushes for a single day of serving the community.
"One of the greatest attributes we can instill in our students is a love of serving others," said Tracy Steele, community directions and development director for MCC. "It is a cornerstone to our faith and is an important quality for these future leaders."
Ms. Steele said that the day served as an opportunity for its 501 students to become familiar with the principle themes of Catholic social teaching and direction the teaching provides for responding to today's social problems.
"In a single day, MCC students, faculty and staff donated more than 2,300 hours to our community," Ms. Steele said. "This effort makes a tremendous impact on our fellow citizens. Our students benefit from the experience, but our community also benefits."
The service was split per grade level: seniors reached out to senior citizens, with activities and assistance at area senior communities; juniors improved the lives of those in need by working with different agencies, such as the Hacienda Girls Ranch; sophomores served youth by working with younger students at Our Lady of Lourdes, St. Joseph's and Holy Name of Jesus; and freshmen cleaned the beaches in conjunction with Keep Brevard Beautiful.
"It might be a freshly painted fence, a clean stretch of beach or hug from a senior citizen that inspires these young men and women to continue on a life's mission of service," Ms. Steele said. "There is no higher calling."
Ms. Steele said that event was created by school president Michael Burke.
"He envisioned a day that helped our students put their faith in action," she said. "There is a similar event at Texas A&M. Mr. Burke is from Texas, so it seemed to be a great fit for what he wanted to achieve at MCC."
For the past three years, students, faculty and staff at MCC have dedicated their time each year to help the community, with new charities added to their service list every time.
"Our students, faculty and staff get so excited about this day that we are already planning for next year," Ms. Steele said.