Discover the Difference: Service Learning Benefits Students, Community

by Diocese of Des Moines | December 1, 2020

Students at a food drive

Diocese of Des Moines Catholic schools develop character through an educationChildren picking up leaves rooted in faith that fosters service to God and others. We expect more from our students because we challenge them to aim higher — and not just academically, but spiritually and personally, as well. As a result, our diocesan Catholic schools and their students perform more than 100,000 hours of service in the community every year. 

Why engage our students in service-learning experiences? In addition to providing tangible benefits to the community and those in need, service-learning benefits students as well. According to Davila and Mora (2007), civic engagement promotes higher academic achievement among students. Moreover, service-learning helps students:

  • Build positive relationships 
  • Demonstrate servant-leadership
  • Strengthen communication and teamwork skills
  • Connect school curriculum with real-world experiences
  • Develop empathy and respect for others
  • Foster creative problem-solving skills
  • Become aware of social issues in their community

"Engaging in community service provides students the opportunity to become active members of their community and has a lasting, positive impact on society at large," shared Donna Bishop, superintendent of Schools. "Moreover, volunteerism enables students to acquire life skills and knowledge while helping those in our communities who need it most."

Here are just a few ways our students are helping their communities this Advent season.

Christ the King Parish and School hosted a winter clothing drive to help those in their local community who could use a little extra support this year. Their goal is to share the warmth and make sure no child at Christ the King is without winter essentials. The school collected over 100 cubic feet of mittens, coats, hats, and more.

Saint Albert Catholic was officially knee-deep in spuds last week. The call went out for potatoes and canned goods to support the community's Thanksgiving dinner, and families responded with enthusiasm. Over 1,000 pounds of potatoes were donated!

Fifth-grade students at St. Luke the Evangelist School hosted a virtual food drive by collecting cash donations to support STAR 102.5's Combat Hunger campaign. The students created presentations to help spread the message about their goal to provide 1,200 meals to Iowans by raising funds for the Food Bank of Iowa.

Every December, Dowling Catholic High School helps more than 90 families in need with their Christmas Basket program. Christmas baskets filled with groceries, toiletries, household items, clothing, and gifts are provided to families in need thanks to generous donations from school families, students, faculty, staff, and the Des Moines community. 2020 has been especially difficult, and there are more families in need this year than ever before. We invite families throughout the Diocese of Des Moines to prayerfully consider supporting this effort with a donation. To make your gift, visit

The Diocese of Des Moines Catholic schools include 16 schools in 23 counties in central and southwest Iowa. Catholic schools in the Des Moines Diocese build Christ-centered, collaborative, inclusive partnerships with parents, students, and parishes to provide innovative academic excellence and inspirational faith formation for students.

To learn more about the Diocese of Des Moines Catholic schools,


Akman, T. (2016). The Benefits of Service Learning. Retrieved November 30, 2020 from

AmeriCorps (2020). Involving Kids. Retrieved December 1, 2020 from

Committee on Improving the Health, Safety, and Well-Being of Young Adults; Board on Children, Youth, and Families; Institute of Medicine; National Research Council; Bonnie RJ, Stroud C, Breiner H, editors. Investing in the Health and Well-Being of Young Adults. Washington (DC): National Academies Press (US); 2015 Jan 27. 5, Civic Engagement, and National Service. Retrieved December 1, 2020 from

Davila, A., & Mora, M. T. (2007). An Assessment of Civic Engagement and Educational Attainment (January 2007): Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement.

Diocese of Des Moines

The Diocese of Des Moines, created in 1911, serves people over a 12,446 square mile area in the southwestern quadrant of Iowa, including 23 counties.