As most high school students are aware, an essential part of the student credentials required by colleges is the amount of time invested in volunteering. It is also, needless to say, a valuable and meaningful contribution to the community. Even in relatively affluent areas such as that which Shawnee is in the heart of, there are always organizations and individuals in need of help. However, with the exception of students who have a reliable source of volunteering throughout their high school years or those who have formed a plan early on, there is often a mad scramble for hours in the junior and senior populace.
Volunteering may seem like a large and sometimes difficult commitment for a busy student or staff member. It is actually much easier than you may think, and you can begin close to home! Shawnee’s own Yellow Ribbon Club was organized to help support current and retired United States military personnel. The Report asked Mrs Belville, advisor to Yellow Ribbon Club, about the options available to those involved.
Yellow Ribbon usually volunteers as a group, attending welcome home celebrations, memorials, fundraisers, and walks. For example, just this last December, Mrs. Belville’s favorite event this year was a wreath-laying at the Gloucester County Veterans Memorial Cemetery in Williamstown, NJ. That day, 2,300 wreaths were laid on grave sites.
She says the club welcomes anyone that wants to “make an effort to help and honor our veterans,” many having sacrificed so much to serve and protect our country. YRC also, on occasion, joins forces with some of Shawnee’s sports coaches and teams for annual campaigns like Toys for Tots.
“It is extremely important,” Mrs Belville says, “for us to give back.”
Miss Croge, Volunteer Service Coordinator at Shawnee, works on the Senior Day of Service, the Goodwill clothing drive, and other volunteer opportunities.
She offers some tips to those looking outside of scholastic events like toy drives, clothing drives, and can drives:
There are senior living communities always looking for volunteers in Medford and Medford Lakes.
Look for flyer postings, which can be found in local businesses.
Ask Goodwill, a non-profit organization, for volunteering opportunities.
Local parks and churches are often open to help, particularly those with gardens in the spring and summer.
The South Jersey FoodBank in Pennsauken, NJ, always welcomes volunteers.
As for the Senior Day of Service, each school has a day in the spring where they send their senior students out to do community service. Seniors pick from a list of locations that want our help and are sent there to do whatever is asked of them (cleaning, painting, yard work, playing with children, walking dogs, etc.). This event has an wide reach in this region.
“Some of our students choose to help out at hospitals,” Miss Croge says, “and find a real love for the caring of children and senior citizens.” Thus, volunteers may gain experience in fields they may not have considered getting into previously.
It is, after all, a form of networking, opening doors to lifelong opportunities and friendships, equipping volunteers with new skills and new perspectives, and forming the core of all giving communities.
Though Shawnee does not have a fully-fledged Volunteer Club as some other schools in the district do, our Volunteer Service Coordinator thinks that with the right amount of interest and participation in the aforementioned events, it could be a successful venture.
Contact our Volunteer Service Coordinator Miss Croge for more information at [email protected]!