Harriet Bishop Elementary sign

Harriet Bishop Elementary School used a sign facing O’Connell Road to share an encouraging message with the Savage community. Service Day Saturday, an annual volunteering event started by a club at the school, will be canceled this year due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Service Day Saturday is tentatively postponed until May 30, but Shrey Pothini, the event’s founder, said there are still many opportunities to volunteer during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It isn’t just about that one day, but it’s something that lasts,” Shrey said this week. “Our hope is that people are able to find that spirit and find something small they can do to help to make a positive change.”

Shrey, now a student at Burnsville High School, founded Harriet Bishop Elementary School’s Service Club when he was a student there. Other service clubs later formed across the district, and the service club’s efforts led to the founding of a city-wide event held every April.

“In Service Club we talk a lot about using our time and talents for others,” said Meena Pothini, Shrey’s younger sister, who is a current member of Harriet Bishop’s service club.

Members are still doing projects, Meena said, such as putting together sewing kits for community members to make face masks.

Shrey said other projects for young volunteers include decorating driveways and sidewalks with positive chalk messages, painting “kindness rocks” and writing notes of appreciation to local police, fire, city officials, educators and others.

“Something as small as that can really spread joy in this time that is a little bit uncertain,” he said.

Seema Pothini, Shrey and Meena’s mother, is also working to unite the community through the Savage Cares Facebook group.

She said the group formed because residents were looking for more ways to connect following a recent community dialogue on race, but it’s currently serving as a place to address community needs created by the pandemic, such as connecting residents to child care and food.

She hopes to continue to the group once the pandemic needs subside.

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