Covenant Day expands annual Doulos Day to 25 locations
by Morgan Smith
William Kepper loves hanging out and playing with kids, so when he was assigned to Christ Our Shepherd Ministries Preschool for Covenant Day’s annual Doulos Day, he was more than happy to be a helping hand in Matthews.
William, a sixth-grader at the school, said he looks forward to the annual mission day each semester.
“I like it because it’s a great opportunity to minister to people and make their lives better,” he said.
Along with nine other fellow sixth-graders, William had the chance to connect and play with toddlers at the nonprofit preschool March 22, when Covenant Day provided the tots with an art lesson on clay, as well as friendship.
“We talk about a heart to change the world, so here we are serving in the community and trying to help others and kind of just share the love of Christ with each other,” Karen Ernsberger, the art teacher at Covenant Day, said. “Just wherever we are, we’re trying to make things better.”
Ernsberger lead the group at Christ Our Shepherd, where they taught students about texture and creativity.
The group was among 25 Covenant Day middle school teams, around 215 students in all, dressed in orange shirts and scattered throughout Matthews and the region. Doulos Day – doulos means “servant” in Greek – has become an annual semester event since the tradition started at the middle school eight years ago. Last semester, the school’s sixth-, seventh- and eighth-graders gathered shoes for Samaritan’s Feet, but this semester, event coordinator Caroline Orsillo wanted to take serving in the community to the next level.
“I just finally decided if I can get these kids out to the entire city, in smaller groups, the amount of work that can be done and the representation and service for Christ could be so much greater,” Orsillo said.
Orsillo worked on the project for several months leading up to the big day, where she set a goal of about 18 agencies. So when 25 agencies showed an interest in hosting students, Orsillo knew the project would be much greater than she could even imagine. Other Matthews-area agencies helped included Bright Blessings, Matthews HELP Center, Carrington Place, Christian Adoption Services, Habitat for Humanity of Matthews, Town of Matthews, Thompson Child and Family Focus – St. Peters campus and Christ Covenant Church. Around eight to 10 students were assigned to each site, along with one or two adult chaperones.
“We just kind of trusted that God had a plan for them at each place,” Orsillo said of the smaller group format. “I know the kids that went to Christ Our Shepherd – they were just so excited because they were able to really connect with the children.”
At other sites, Orsillo said many students were really pushed out of their comfort zones when they visited homeless shelters, nursing homes and spent time with developmentally disabled adults.
“It forced them to step into a roll that they might not have been comfortable with,” Orsillo added. It’s about “growing on multiple levels. In the end, we just hope that little seed was planted in their hearts and it’s something that they will continue to do.”
The group also had the chance to help out some agencies before they even got there. Orsillo had the idea to hold a two-week drive prior to Doulos Day to collect items the agencies needed. Students and teachers alike donated anything from first-aid kits, shampoo, cans of food and even about 150 bars of soap. Students delivered the donated goods on the service day.
“It’s not much, but it helped send the message that we’re serious about what we’re doing and it made the kids feel good,” Orsillo said.