While many Atlanta-area high school students spent the summer lying out by the pool, Holy Spirit Preparatory School junior John Arnold was feeding hungry children.
Last summer, John coordinated a community-wide lunch-making effort in partnership with Action Ministries that made 300 lunches per week for disadvantaged children in College Park and East Point.
“I was so enthralled with this ministry because it struck me that there were children in this nation, a nation with so much global affluence and respect, who relied so heavily on the public school systems and private donations for something as simple as a peanut butter and jelly sandwich,” John said.
During his sophomore year, John spent every Sunday and Tuesday night with his family making lunches for Action Ministries, but he was not satisfied with this level of commitment. Upon realizing that many children go hungry in the summer when they are unable to receive free or reduced-cost lunches from school, John organized a weekly sandwich-making mission in the main hall of Holy Spirit Catholic Church.
“I was the person going through the process of coordinating dates for sandwich making, figuring out how many people could show up, actually making the lunches, as well as delivering all the lunches to the sites,” said John.
The sandwich-making ministry soon became a part of ONE Apostolate, Holy Spirit Prep’s community service organization that serves the homeless. By the end of the summer, the initiative had made 1,950 lunches for hungry children.
This school year, John is serving as president of ONE Apostolate. The sandwich ministry is not as active during the school year, so the organization focuses on volunteering at soup kitchens and sewing sleeping bags for the homeless.
When not engaging in community service, John is a competitive archer. He still finds time to excel academically, too, and counts Latin, AP Calculus and AP U.S. History among his favorite classes.
“John is very bright and very driven,” said Jill Stedman, John’s AP U.S. History teacher and ONE Apostolate advisor. “He is one of the best critical thinkers I have taught during my career. John will be able to accomplish anything he sets his mind to. He has a strong work ethic, and he has a personality that inspires his peers to be excited and engaged in their work.”
“John’s maturity, respect for others and love of ideas is inspiring,” added John’s homeroom teacher, Archie Deen. “John’s ability to relate to all sections of our school community, and his respectful and engaging connection with his teachers speaks to the wonderful young man he has become.”
John is looking at University of Georgia, Vanderbilt, Wake Forest, Harvard and Yale. He hopes to take what he has learned through the sandwich ministry to college to operate a “feed the hungry” service group. He plans on a career in law.
This article was reported and written by Catherine Benedict, a senior at The Westminster Schools.