Normally, Macie Chernov reserves her Saturdays for relaxation — a little bit of television, perhaps a jaunt around the block on her bicycle.
“I’m kind of a couch potato,” she admitted.
But on Saturday, the Payson Community Christian School student volunteered her time at the school’s new monthly fund-raising pancake breakfast.
Chernov liked eating free food, but she also enjoyed helping out, and said she didn’t miss her traditional idle morning.
Students at the school have begun organizing the monthly events to benefit local organizations. On Saturday, the breakfast benefited Randy Roberson’s HELP, an emergency disaster relief non-profit.
The school has chosen other non-profits including Crisis Pregnancy Center and Habitat for Humanity.
Students organize the events by compiling shopping lists, among other things, and mostly run the day — holding up signs to attract passersby and cooking pancakes.
PCCS teacher Keven Rush said students often need guidance.
“They are definitely still junior and senior high school kids,” he said. “That’s all part of the learning process for them.”
The schoolwide community service program aims to get students more involved in the community. Rush said the idea first came to him after realizing video games and television filled students’ weekends.
He wanted to enhance the opportunity for student involvement, but projects needed to be completed during school time.
And so, PCCS students started completing community service projects during school hours — doing yard work for HELP on a Friday, for example. Out-and-about projects are limited to older, high school students. Younger students generally help with smaller tasks like collecting items for various drives.
The idea for a fund-raising pancake breakfast arose through conversations that began during another breakfast during last year’s re-enrollment festivities. Everyone had so much fun that they wanted to hold more, and they ultimately concluded that raising money for organizations marked a fun way of increasing community involvement.
Guests can eat pancakes and bacon, washing it down with orange juice, for a good cause. Students learn leadership and organizational skills while volunteering at one breakfast each semester.
But the breakfasts are so popular that too many kids showed up to help at the first one.
“It’s fun,” said student Kayla Warren. “You get free food.” Saturday’s breakfast technically marked the second event. However, the organizers quickly organized the first one, and so they considered Saturday the first full-blown breakfast.
In the ultimate spirit of community service, Rush said he would eventually like to offer the kids opportunities to travel and complete missionary work. Some students at the school visited the Philippines through their churches, and Rush said he hopes to make those opportunities available through PCCS.
The school must surmount financial challenges, and Rush said the kids decided to avoid hosting pancake breakfasts to fund-raise for trips. That defeats the purpose of the breakfasts, he said.
“The purpose of the breakfast wasn’t to raise the money for us; it was to raise money for other organizations,” said Rush.
“When you do something for others, there is an intrinsic value — a joy that you get from helping somebody else.”