Students Giving Back: How we embolden volunteerism and charitable work

Students Giving Back: How we embolden volunteerism and charitable work
Amy Dempster
 


To fully create a culture of kindness and empathy at Carroll, we embolden our students to volunteer and give back to the community inside and outside of our campus walls. By providing opportunities for charitable giving—be it their time, advocacy, or donations—our hope is that students will be motivated to continue this important work throughout their lifetime. Here’s what that looks like across our campuses this year.

Helping Hands at the Lower School

Started by Lower School Counselor, Meghan Shea, Helping Hands is a group that meets bi-monthly to brainstorm, plan, and manage giving projects at the Lower School. Every student in grades 1-5 is a member and can attend one or all the meetings over the school year. Meghan shared, “Up until about five years ago, there would be multiple student-run giving projects happening throughout the year. I created Helping Hands as a way to better focus the students’ enthusiasm and interest in planning and managing charitable work. Opening it up to all the students rather than forming a club with members allows more students to get involved—a good approach for our younger students as they learn what’s involved in volunteering.”

Helping Hands’ volunteers plan and run many activities ranging from smaller school-focused projects—cleaning the playgrounds, designing “pep talk” signs to post throughout the school, and writing “Thank You” notes to faculty and staff—to 3-4 larger projects that collect items and monetary donations for local charities. “We have created art packs for Boston Children’s Hospital, collected clothing for Cradles to Crayons, and raised money for many animal-based charities,” described Meghan. “This past month, we collected food donations for the Healthy Waltham food pantry. Students donated over 315 items! It’s awesome to see so many students and families give back to our local community.”


Upper School Student Council Forms New Community Service Group

This year, the Upper School student council added a new community service division to plan and manage charitable initiatives on the Wayland campus. Upper School Counselor Teresa Lacks shared, “Each year, we organize many local volunteer and donation-based projects as a way of giving back to our community, while also modeling empathy and kindness for our students. Past charity work has mostly been coordinated by the faculty. This year, I thought it would be a great experience for students to be more involved in identifying, organizing, and promoting these types of activities. So I approached the student council about forming a group specifically designed to do this. They loved the idea!”

One of the group’s goals is to increase awareness about all the great volunteer work that students do outside of school. They came up with the idea for a “Community Service Challenge.” Starting in December and running through MLK Day, students are invited to record all their community service hours—volunteer coaching, babysitting for free, volunteering at a local senior center, etc.—that will be tracked collectively and displayed at school alongside submitted photos of the activities. Teresa shared, “We love that many of our students are already volunteering in their communities. By celebrating that, we hope to elevate awareness amongst the whole Upper School community about simple ways we can help others. And when the students reach 200 hours, we’re going to have a pizza party which will be so much fun!”

 

Middle School Students Organize Ways to Give Back at Carroll and Beyond


At Carroll:

 

This year, there is a new Community Service club at the Middle School focused on volunteer and service projects on campus. Middle School tutor and club mentor, Frank Grace shared, “Community Service Club is an extension of an idea tutor Sarah Napier put into action last spring with students undertaking a series of assistive tasks around campus. The idea is that by helping out on campus, students can garner Carroll unity and pride for the benefit of the entire community.”

 

Frank continued, “The club seeks to provide service and recognition to non-teaching staff who are essential to the daily operations at Carroll—such as our nurses, buildings & grounds crew, front desk staff, and the tech team. In addition to lending a helping hand to these folks—such as, volunteering at Fall Festival, organizing classroom first aid kits for Nurse Hanley, and assisting Mr. Willard with buildings and grounds projects—they will be designing and delivering thank you cards before the winter break.”

Outside Carroll:

Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. It sounds simple but to teach it takes hands-on experience. A partnership with Pathways Family Shelter in Framingham is one way that our Middle School educators do this. Director of Counseling, Allison Harmon, explained, “We partner with Pathways each year to show our students many ways that one can help locally. The students have done service projects—doing yard work and organizing closets—as well as coordinating fundraisers, such as this year’s Winter Clothing Drive.”

Allison continued, “The Winter Clothing Drive kicked off on Ruby Bridges’ Day. Our student council officers presented the drive as ‘a BRIDGE to kindness’ modeled after the Ruby Bridges Foundation’s mission to foster compassion in tomorrow’s leaders. It was a wonderful way to connect the charitable initiatives of our student council with a day dedicated to promoting inclusion, social justice, and community service.”



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