Quaker fun and philosophy: WFS spring fling 2019

Nick Redd, Community Writer

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     This May 18th, the annual Spring Fling will return to Wilmington Friends. On that Saturday, parents, alumni, and students will enjoy aspects of the Friends community, as food trucks and a variety of attractions come to campus. On the morning of, students will be participating in a day of service. This service, similar to the service students did in the fall, will consist of students boxing up food for the homeless people in our community. In the fall, students packaged around 10,000 meals in two hours. These meals contained healthy ingredients that could be used to make free, sustainable meals. This was a major success for the service committee – so much of a success that they decided to construct another one. Ashley Chompre ’20, one of the Service Committee clerks, offered the following statement regarding the efficacy of this project: “Service at WFS opens up our small, tight-knit community to the important problems in our larger surrounding community. It helps our student body gain perspective into the lives of many people in our Wilmington community and gain an appreciation for the education and opportunities we receive at WFS. We hope that this next meal packaging event expands on our success of past Service events.” Also, service is not only beneficial to the individual, but an excellent way to create bonds within the school community. Further, Kiera Patterson ’20,  expressed the good that service does for our community. “Service not only creates a stronger bond between members of the community, but it also creates a stronger bond between the school and the Wilmington community. We are hoping that the next event will grow on the success of past events. We are planning two exciting service opportunities. The first is Red Nose Day on May 23. The second is an event in early June with Habitat for Humanity.” Not only is this service good and beneficial for the community, but it also relates directly back to some of the core Quaker SPICES.

     The Quaker SPICES: Community, Stewardship, Integrity, Peace, Equality, and Simplicity are all seen during events like these. All of these SPICES directly correlate with community service in itself. Also, service within the school is seen as something that is imperative to the function of the community. Especially considering the dynamic of the Wilmington community, it is important that students who are privileged enough to attend Friends are constantly challenged and asked to give back to the community. Also, students find that these community service opportunities are important to the school. Ajala Elmore ’20, is participating in the day of service on the 18th, and offered the following comment about service: “ I have always loved and cherished service; it is something that I have grown to enjoy, and love. Being apart of any type of service brings a fun, and positive atmosphere that cannot be beaten by any other activity, Especially when I partake in service with friends. The day of service in the fall was one my favorite service experiences ever, so I can’t wait until the 18th to give back to my community.” Clearly, Elmore is excited about the opportunity and understands the importance of service at Friends.

     In addition, the upcoming event is one that has been very important among the faculty. Debbie Murray-Sheppard, a board of trustees member and the clerk of committee of trustees, is spearheading the service initiative. During a conversation, Sheppard commented about service in the school, the expectations that it implies, and how service relates to our Quaker philosophies. “The service project is a celebration of our testimony of community.  It is a chance for the entire WFS family to come together in service to our greater Wilmington community. It is an opportunity to interact across divisions, with families, alumni, trustees, faculty, staff and area Quakers to meet and work together in a manner which is integral to our Quaker beliefs.  It is our hope that folks will make friends, reconnect with old friends, and create new bonds that will deepen our shared experience of community, for a common good. To add to that, there is an old (and not really funny) line about someone attending Meeting for Worship and asking a silent Friend, ‘When does the service begin?’, to which the Friend replied, ‘Service begins when the worship ends.’”As Quakers, a common belief is that there is a direct link between worship and service to others, and that our search for truth requires action.” When asked about the expectations of the day of service Sheppard stated: “ We will be packaging 20,000 meals of beans and rice and tomato basil pasta that are shelf stable for up to 2 years. The meals will be distributed to a number of local organizations who collect and distribute food to those in need. Many of the organizations have expressed appreciation, noting that the need is great during the summer when children are not receiving meals at school.  We will be providing meals to: Lutheran Community Services, Food Bank of Delaware, Latin American Community Center, Joseph’s Pantry at Congregation Beth Emeth, Kennett Food Cupboard/La Comunidad, and Octorara Food Cupboard. We also expect to see as many people from our community as possible. Our hope is that everyone will come to help for a while on May 18!  We were led to this type of service by the Middle School’s inquiry into economic and food insecurity in our area. The project itself is an expansion of the Upper School service project last fall. So, students are the experts here!  Please come, encourage all your friends to come, and lend your experience and expertise to the rest of us!  We look forward to spending a morning of fun and fellowship in service, followed by a great afternoon at the Spring Fling supporting the QUEST travelers!” Lastly, when asked about how service and the quaker philosophy relate to each other, Sheppard stated, “As Quakers, we believe there is Light in everyone and that we are all part of a family of equals.  We look for ways to support and engage others in creating a healthier, happier and less violent world, in which we recognize first the good in others.  When the American Friends Service Committee was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1947, the prize read, “It is the silent help from the nameless to the nameless which is their contribution to the promotion of brotherhood among nations.”  Quakers believe we should respond to need wherever it exists in the human family – not just address the needs of our close friends, family or political allies.  This project is philosophy in action.”

     The upcoming day of service will serve to display the great responsibility and dignity the students hold in our community. After all, the Quaker SPICE of the year is Community, and this years efforts are yet another a great tribute to that quaker spice. On May 18th, be among the first of everyone out there, to support the Wilmington Friends community!

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