Staples students agree it pays to lend a hand

For many Staples students, doing community service is just as valuable as making Honor Roll or dominating FCIACs. Although charities like Builders Beyond Borders and the County Assemblies require that participants raise money or make a donation, students say this doesn’t make the experience any less charitable.

Through Builders Beyond Borders (B3), teenagers are given the opportunity to participate in local and global community service projects, including 9-day trips abroad to build facilities in overlooked communities.

According to the B3 Website, volunteers perform approximately 20,000 hours of community service each year, yet each student must raise approximately $3000 for the overseas trip, including an initial deposit of $600. However, students say that the money is spent only on the bare necessities: food, water, shelter, and building materials.

Julia Greene ’15, an active participant in B3 for two years, said that on last year’s trip to Guyana, the money was spent mostly on hammocks and food.

Greene added that, although some people criticize B3 trips as being just a vacation, it’s anything but, as students spend the trips building roads and schools.

Nikhita Shankar ’15 agreed. “It’s not like we’re paying to stay in a five star hotel,” she said. “We stay in schools or churches, and we go there to do work.”

On the other hand, some believe that the money raised by B3 could be put to better use by funding local building projects.

“If the goal of the project was to simply build bridges and pathways, the money that is spent on airfare and food would be put to better use as funding for local infrastructure projects,” Brandon Rakowski ’16 said.

Another charity that aims to give back to the community but requires payment is the County Assemblies.

The organization holds two charity dances each year, the Counties Ball and the Red and White Ball. In order to attend the events, each couple must pay $105. Meanwhile, the average price of a formal gown is $170, and renting a stretch limo can cost up to $15 per person.

Board member Susan Kobylinski explained that all of the proceeds, after expenses, and deposits for next year’s dances are donated to local charities. The four student ambassadors who represent Westport on the board have chosen to allocate a portion of this year’s proceeds to Al’s Angels.

Kobylinski noted the importance of the organization, which raised approximately $32,000 last year.

However, some students, like Christopher Mckinney ’14, argue that because giving money to Counties is a requirement, not a choice, it isn’t really that charitable.

“I understand an argument can be made that it is less of a charitable act, because students aren’t taking on the initiative themselves to donate,” Mckinney said.