Community service ingrained in BCACS culture, as volunteers are lifeblood of schools

I could do more.

That’s my personal assessment when it comes to volunteering. Maybe that’s just my Catholic guilt, but I’d like to think that it’s a feeling shared by many.

As a product of Battle Creek Area Catholic Schools, the value of service to the school, parishes and community was ingrained in me and my peers. Now – as a school parent, parishioner and community member – there are more opportunities than ever to provide support and fulfill needs, both on and off school campuses.

The truth is, there is no “best way” to volunteer. For BCACS students and their families, volunteer service hours are not just a requirement, but a way of making a tangible difference for others.


St. Philip Catholic Central High School and St. Joseph Middle School students are required to complete 20 service hours each school year as part of the Theology course requirement, with 10 hours at school or their respective place of worship and the remaining 10 hours at approved non-profit agencies.

For students, community service is not just something to put on a college resume. It’s a way to build character and foster greater critical thinking and empathy for others.

My personal student volunteer experience at St. Philip was eye-opening and enriching. Under the guidance of high school Theology teacher Carole Smith, we sewed quilts for the needy at Charitable Union, did manual labor for Habitat for Humanity and launched food and clothing drives for Haven of Rest and S.A.F.E. Place. Those experiences provided satisfaction in genuinely helping others and laid a foundation for myself and my peers that underscore the responsibility of being a representative and servant of our schools.

At BCACS, students are taught to think globally and act locally. Graduates go out into the world and continue acts of selflessness and giving, making an impact and bringing joy and greater prosperity to people and organizations in need.

That spirit of volunteerism is modeled by staff, parents and grandparents.


Each school family is asked to commit 20 hours of service each year or has the option of paying a $200 volunteer fee, billed through tuition.

Per the policy of the Diocese of Kalamazoo, all school volunteers must complete the diocesan VIRTUS program. Volunteers who have regular contact with children must attend or be registered for a “Protecting God’s Children” training session prior to volunteering and must submit a criminal background check.

Some families far exceed the 20-hour requirement. But for those struggling to determine how they can best make a difference, here are some annual opportunities:

All Saints Superfest, Full House Drawdown and Big Red Golf Outing: The three major fundraising events require a lot of helping hands. And many hands make light work. Work includes organization, setup, ticket sales, manning booths and cleanup.

Alumni Club: Promote alumni relations with the school through activities such as class reunions, Homecoming weekend and other social events.

Building/Grounds Maintenance: Assist maintenance department with school and grounds upkeep, including landscaping and painting projects.

BCACS Athletics: Assist with admissions, coaching and concessions.

Mom’s Club/Dad’s Club: Help with annual events, teacher appreciation, fundraising and special projects which benefit schools.

BCACS Advisory Board: Parents can serve on the board and work with committees, including finance, communication and marketing, safety and strategic planning.

Transportation: For service-learning activities and field trips.

School Support: Assist office and teaching staff with projects and activities; serve as a library volunteer or a lunchroom assistant; school dance chaperone; and after-school enrichment program advising.

The most valuable thing a person can offer is their time. At BCACS, the countless volunteers who go above and beyond are what make our schools so special.

Nick J. Buckley is a freelance journalist and 2003 St. Philip High School graduate. He and his wife, Alexis (Rainier) Buckley (Class of 2004) have two children who attend Battle Creek Area Catholic Schools. To reach him, email



BCACS students bring historical figures to life
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