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The warehouse of New Windsor nonprofit SERRV International was abuzz with activity Friday morning, as a crowd of high school-aged students from Mount Airy Christian Academy bustled about, pricing, labeling and packaging fair trade goods.

It was just one of many sites in Carroll, Frederick and Howard counties where students were gathering to get experience volunteering outside the classroom, according to Lori Sefton, academic dean at Mount Airy Christian Academy, or MACA.

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"The whole emphasis for today for all of MACA is called Go Beyond," Sefton said. "Our hope is we will be inspiring our students to go beyond their comfort zones, to go beyond the walls of MACA, to go outside and serve others."

For junior Maggie Meesuk, it was an inspiring learning experience she said will lead her to volunteer more.

"I haven't actually been here before or done anything with packing, so it was a great new experience," she said. "I'm getting more into [service work] through MACA. I have helped with pool cleanups and stuff like that, but I haven't been regularly volunteering, so it's good to do."

Go Beyond was originally meant to be part of a service-focused week of activities in January, when students packaged 10,000 meals for hungry people around the world, according to Sefton, but snow got in the way and cut the week short. Friday was the snow date selected to complete the service project.

"We were supposed to go on Friday, Jan. 22, and all of school was canceled," she said. "Actually, it was a blessing because we were able to do some yard work today, and we weren't planning on being able to do that in January."

A group of younger students, in kindergarten, first and second grades, visited the Lorien assisted living center in Mount Airy to sing songs and deliver crafts they had made to the residents, according to MACA teacher Megan Harmon.

"Our hope is to partner with parents to raise a generation of kids who are willing to bless and serve others," she said.

For students like junior Will Braden, who was among the team in New Windsor, Friday's activities completed a project that has revealed a new appreciation for volunteer work.

"It's been a great experience to serve with other peers in our class and in other grades," he said. "It's not just about doing volunteer work; service is really appreciated, and the more service you can do the better."

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