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[Dec. 2016 Features] Volunteering provides students and recipients with benefits

By Phoebe Mendelson ’17

The holiday season is a time of year when people aspire to be the best versions of themselves and give back to their communities by spreading cheer. Westport residents are no exception, as they volunteer all over Fairfield County, and Staples students also involved in many philanthropic acts.

Two of the most popular volunteer organizations at Staples are the National Charity League (NCL)  and the Service League of Boys (SLOBS). Students involved in these organizations partake in volunteer work year round, and are especially busy during the holiday months.

“It’s very important for people to participate in community service, especially around the holidays,” Allie Avila ’19, a member of NCL, said, “because there are certain things that people may not be as fortunate as us to have and everyone deserves to be happy around the holidays.”

Paige O’Brien ’18, who is also a member of NCL, feels as though volunteering during the holidays really stands out to those in need. “I think that during the holidays, many families or even individuals who can’t celebrate in the way that we do feel even more saddened or upset,” she said. “This influences the volunteers because they know that their work means that much more to the people in need.”

Volunteering, while incredibly helpful and meaningful to those in need, has a positive impact on the volunteers as well.

Jackson Valente ’18, a member of SLOBS, believes there are many rewards to community service. “My favorite part about volunteering is knowing that someone who doesn’t have the ‘Westport bubble’ can get some help and feel like they aren’t alone,” he said. “I also love volunteering because it make me feel proud that I am able to help other people around the world.”

Another incentive for students to volunteer for is to pad résumés for colleges.

Jacob Stanford ’19, is one of the many students conscious about college acceptance. “Volunteering and community service is really good for résumés and lends benefits that could get me into college, which is a really important aspect in my life,” he said.

However, volunteer work not only produces immediate rewards, but can also shape a person for the remainder of his or her life, according to Thomas Moy ’17.

“I think it makes you into a better and more well rounded person interacting with different types of people,” Moy said.

Lily Dane ’17, for one, found so much joy by volunteering for children.  “My favorite holiday event is the holiday store at the Caroline House in Bridgeport,” Dane said. “We gathered gifts up and the kids got to come through and shop for their families.  They were so excited to pick out gifts for their family members you could see how much joy they got out of the experience.”

According to Audrey Sparre, a member of the staff at the Gillespie Center, “Volunteers are always appreciated by the staff and the residents, but we get so busy and we worry that we do not say so or thank people as sincerely as we mean to and want to.”

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