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Business Students Make A Difference for Children Living in East Saint Louis

Instead of sleeping in on a Saturday morning, roughly 80 students and others affiliated with Saint Louis University's Chaiftez School of Business recently woke up before 8 a.m. for the school's annual day of service. Held by the Chaifetz School of Business Service Leadership Program each spring, Service Day 2019 was held for the third year in a row at the Christian Activity Center in East Saint Louis.

Business students serve at the Christian Activity Center for Service Day 2019

Business students serve at the Christian Activity Center for Service Day 2019.

“I am very grateful for the team and the people who have signed up because of their connection to service, and it's pretty inspiring,” said Sierhah Price, a graduate assistant at the Chaiftez School and Service Day committee chair.

Every spring, students help with redeveloping the Christian Activity Center by completing painting projects, mulching the outdoor playground and organizing classrooms to create a welcoming environment for young people to learn and grow.

"Keeping the place nice is important because kids define themselves by what they see,” said Chet Cantrell, director of the Christian Activity Center.

The Christian Activity Center's mission is to prepare youth in East St. Louis for successful futures: spiritually, academically and physically. It offers a safe haven for children to grow in a community together after school.

The original purpose of the Christian Activity Center was to keep kids off the streets. Since Cantrell arrived in 1989, the organization has worked to provide kids with a brighter future.

The city's juvenile delinquency rate is 40 percent; however, the rate at the center is less than three percent. The city's graduation rate is 10.7 percent, but the center's graduation rate is 97 percent.

"We grew to the place where we try to help kids thrive and have access to opportunities to help level their playing field," Cantrell said. "We try to talk about values and live those out to give our kids similar opportunities that you have to go serve places."

Service Day is not the only time the Christian Activity Center sees SLU students. Every week, students in the Service Leadership Program  help implement the center's vision,  assisting in after-school programs and clubs. Next  fall, students have an after-school soccer program to look forward to.

“We’ve had SLU students for a long time and it's an enriching thing for us to have the energy and exuberance that comes from the people that want to be with children," said Cantrell.

Join us next spring for Service Day 2020!