Big turnout for annual Senior Service Day at Shawnee Mission East

Lauren Cole helps feed a child at Avenue of Life in KCK for her SME Senior Service Day project.
Lauren Cole helps feed a child at Avenue of Life in KCK for her SME Senior Service Day project.

This year’s annual Senior Service Day event at Shawnee Mission East prompted 85 percent of the class to spread out across the metro Wednesday for service projects ranging from running a field day for special needs kids to sorting onions at Harvesters.

Danny Tapp arrived at East at 7 a.m. and traveled to Harvesters in Kansas City with 25 other seniors to help package 1,000 pounds of onions.

“We had to sort out the rotten ones and make bags of 20 each that went out to families,” he said.

“It was hard work,” added Clayton Phillips. “It felt good making sure the food was safe for those who needed it.”

Krissie Wiggins, coordinator of the SHARE program at East, said about 340 seniors participated in this year’s event. Many left school early in the morning to do service projects at more than a dozen places.

Stanley Morantz and Ellie Booton helped harvest vegetables at Hillcrest Transitional Housing in KCK for their SME Senior Service project.
Stanley Morantz and Ellie Booton helped harvest vegetables at Hillcrest Transitional Housing in KCK for their SME Senior Service project.

Gretchen Crum and Ragan Rapp were among those who visited seniors at Brighton Garden in Prairie Village. They played games with the residents, painted nails and made Halloween crafts.

“I thought it was really nice, I got a day off school and talked to different people,” Crum said. “The ladies were interested in what we were going to do after high school.”

Rapp added, “it was interesting to talk to them and see how in tune they are. One lady used to be a camp counselor and did crafts with kids.”

Cody Mason was among the seniors who stayed at East to help run what was called “Anna’s Special Field Day.” It was a series of activities for special needs kids. Among the activities were hula-hoops, bowling and jump roping.

“I really hadn’t interacted with special ed kids that much,” Mason said. “It was cool to hang out with them.”

Cameron Collins, another field day volunteer, enjoyed one boy who was into super heroes and pretended to be The Hulk.

“I got to meet kids I never met before,” he said.

Wiggins said the key lesson she wanted all the seniors to learn was the continuing need for their service in the community.

“I got on the bus and told kids to listen to these organizations, how they started and the work they do,” she said. “This is your future. The populations these organizations serve will never go away.”

SME seniors returning from the service projects were treated to a picnic lunch at Harmon Park.
SME seniors returning from the service projects were treated to a picnic lunch at Harmon Park.