Without fail, there is an ever-familiar wave of panic that hits the student body every year: the stress of fulfilling community service hours.
The school’s 12-hour requirement does not seem too difficult to complete, yet many struggle to find organizations that they truly connect with. As a result, students resort to jumping from one service organization to another, just to stock up on hours. Rather than merely regarding community service as a requirement, however, students should strive to volunteer for the sole purpose of benefiting the community.
Compared to other private schools nearby, 12 hours is a meager requirement. Campbell Hall requires its students to complete 20 hours of volunteer work, and Oakwood Middle School integrates its Service Learning program into the classroom.
Though we pride ourselves for attending a rigorous school, we do not seem to excel in community service outreach. In essence, the extremely competitive culture of our school should revolve not only around academic, athletic and artistic excellence, but also around having a meaningful impact within the community service realm. Students should want to say that they attend a school that truly cares about their community, environment and the world at large.
Students often dismiss volunteer work, arguing that, between numerous assessments and other extracurriculars, they do not have enough time in their daily schedules for self-care, let alone community service.
However, if students really care about their community, they will make time to help out. This is what the mantra for volunteering should be.
Instead of working at a dozen random organizations for only one hour each, students should establish relationships with organizations they love. Volunteering with them for long periods of time is more worthwhile for students, as well as for the greater community.
This does not mean that students must stick with just one organization each. Rather, they should search for causes that resonate with them in order to promote lasting changes in society.
Luckily for us, we attend a school with a cornucopia of resources and available opportunities. For one, community service fairs and other special activities run by the school’s Community Council can open new avenues for students’ volunteering endeavors. Students should want to take advantage of the connections that the school provides and not let them go to waste.
Our school provides a wide variety of options for community service, which students can start exploring at the beginning of middle school in order to find a specific service group they connect with. Finding the right organization would not only enable students build stronger relations with those working at the volunteer service, but the experience itself would be more personal and impactful.
Another problem with the community service culture at our school is that most people complete their 12-hour requirement exclusively during the summer.
Although summer is the optimal time to work for organizations for a long period of time, students should attempt to make a habit of reaching out to volunteer organizations during school weekends throughout the year. Being constantly involved in one’s community is just as important as completing one’s hours on time.
The practice of participating in community service should not be confined to the scope of our high school lives. Volunteering endeavors can continue even after high school, throughout college and well into adulthood.
Our individual impacts do not need to be as grand as starting a non-profit organization or becoming a full-time philanthropist, but we should maintain the innate human desire to help others.
Whether it is reading books to children from low-income families, building hygiene kits for those in need or cooking at a local soup kitchen, it is crucial for students to willingly help their communities, not just to check a box on the list of requirements needed to graduate from high school. Students would then feel a sense of accomplishment while directly aiding those around them.
All in all, students should try to spend time figuring out how they can positively affect their communities and volunteer because they truly want to, not because they have to.