News10 and City Year Sacramento held Make a Difference Day at Leataata Floyd Elementary School on Oct. 25. Make a Difference Day is a national day of service focused on giving back, building community and improving the lives of others. City Year and News10 partnered with community members as well as McDonald's and Starbucks volunteers to build fifteen benches, four stages and ten library bookshelves; paint a beautiful mural; and spend hours improving the school garden. All of the projects were completed in a single day, thanks to the service of more than one hundred volunteers.

Having more than a hundred people show up to support the school I have served in for over a year was heartwarming. Several communities united to improve a school I care deeply about. For a community and school that often feels forgotten, it was inspiring and uplifting for so many people to show up and remind our students and families that people care about their school. The volunteers’ commitment on this day for students, who not only need it, but also deserve it, is why Make a Difference Day across the country is special.

After just a week following the event I could already see the positive impact the service day had on my school and the community. Several classes have had lessons in the outdoor classroom, learning about pollinators in the garden. Because Leataata Floyd is now focusing on project-based learning, being able to take students out of the classroom and explore is an essential part of that. The outdoor classroom allows AmeriCorps members to connect students to the outdoor world while maintaining a safe and effective learning environment. It is also a great space to use for other learning opportunities such as small-group reading circles, mentoring and after-school enrichments.

The day after the event, many students shared their pride about participating and meeting all of the City Year AmeriCorps members and volunteers from all over Sacramento. They expressed gratitude for the opportunity to serve their community and interest in the beautiful mural, made up of different Sacramento landmarks. The mural and the other projects have sparked several conversations between students, teachers and other staff members about their city and neighborhood. These conversations have encouraged students to explore life outside their immediate community.

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