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ROCKWALL Members of the Rockwall High School basketball team are in Charlotte Chupik's yard doing hard work, using muscle and heart to help a stranger.

I heard about her story, and Coach was like, if we want to help her, we can, said 11th grader Stanley Thomas.

This is just one of several projects happening on Students Serving Others day, or SSO. Rockwall ISD students are taking the message of Rachel's Challenge and branching out to their community to make a difference.

This is a true blessing from the Lord, Chupik said. Our lawnmower's broken and we didn't know what we were going to do.

Dozens more Rockwall students joined a Habitat for Humanity construction project.

Culinary students made lunch.

Design students will make window treatments.

It shows you how many people care, and take off their Saturday, said Jeff Davidson, who will benefit from one of the Habitat homes.

And it's not just houses. The district planted a tree to commemorate five years of Rachel's Challenge as young people learned about things like preventing water contamination.

It's been administrators, parents, businesses... it's been a community-wide thing where you can see a change in the way people treat one another, said Rachel's Challenge speaker Cody Hodges.

Rockwall schools collected nearly 16,000 cans for the Helping Hands food pantry. Students used them to create sculptures from the SSO logo, to a lighthouse, and even a magical castle of cans.

Then there's the iCan the art is the message.

I guess it's kind of just representing the courage that all of Rockwall has to just build and make people better, said sixth grader Paitlin Amberton.

Kids like Avery Samples and Dani Sweeney spent days practicing their can-struction skills. If the cans fall over, you have to start all over, fourth-grader Margot little said. It takes a lot of visualizing.

Josh Harper, a fifth-grader, explained his project this way: The pyramid keeps the weight together and it doesn't fall over.

The impact of their creations is not lost on these students.

Even though we won a lot and put forth effort towards ourselves, we helped a lot of people, said sixth-grader Alaina McWhirter.

Next month marks 13 years since the Columbine tragedy. Rachel's Challenge is not about the violence of that day; it's about the positive message of Rachel Scott and her vision for the future.


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