At Old Rochester Regional High School, the vast majority of students value community service as a commendable use of free time – exhibited by the high membership of the school’s Community Service Learning, or CSL, club. Students meet after school once a week in advisor Ms. Mary Cabral’s classroom, where they plan charitable activities and organize visits to local non-profits, such as the GiftstoGive warehouse in neighboring New Bedford. For the past month, the CSL club has been organizing and running a fundraiser for the non-profit organization known as Pennies for Patients, which collects funds and redistributes them to the families of local children who are currently being treated in area hospitals for cancer. The program is organized by the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, and collects money from students and schools nationwide during an annual three-week event. Ms. Cabral received mail from the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society about Pennies for Projects prior to the event’s official start, and offered it to the CSL members as a potential project for the year. Immediately the group agreed, and set about collecting money from their classmates. The group also watched a brief video from the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, which showed the results of previous Pennies for Patients fundraisers in schools around the country. Teachers and students involved in the different fundraisers talked about the program itself and ways they tried to fundraise.
The CSL members ultimately decided to collect loose change from students during lunches for the three-week period. They made jars and walked around the cafeteria, asking for donations. At first, the CSL members planned to have a schedule for all lunches, but by the first couple days of fundraising, they had decided that it would be better on them and donors alike to collect only during first lunches, so as not to bother the student body by continuously asking for spare change. Yet the CSL club wanted to do more — and so they took a trick from the video they had watched, and had a “Wear Your Hat to School Day.” The CSL club picked a date and told students that if they wanted to wear a hat during school hours, it would cost them one dollar, which would be donated to Pennies for Patients. This, combined with the loose change collections during lunches, resulted in the CSL club collecting a total of $225 – which Ms. Cabral and student CSL president Madison Costa said was remarkable considering the fact that this only comprised loose change. Looking toward the future in other fundraisers for non-profit organizations, Ms. Costa said that an improvement on the “Wear Your Hat to School Day” would be to collect money for permission over the course of a week, and not collect money on the day of the event. This would allow the CSL club to create a list of all of the students who had paid and thus had permission to wear their hats – which would then allow assistant principal Mr. Parker to know who he couldn’t reprimand during school hours. The idea for the event came from the schools that allowed students to listen to portable music devices during school hours for a nominal fee – which is a testament to how lucky and privileged students at Old Rochester Regional High School are, since they are already allowed to listen to music during studies, passing, and lunches.
The Pennies for Patients fundraiser was a total success for the CSL club, and they are already looking forward to their next big project, for which they already have a couple ideas. Students interested in joining the CSL club may participate by attending the weekly meetings on Thursdays, right after school ends, in Ms. Cabral’s room.
Similarly, the National Honor Society has performed community service by organizing their annual Thanksgiving food basket drive. Members of the National Honor Society gave homerooms a basket and list of needed foodstuffs, and compiled the collected foods into a series of baskets for local families in need. Gift certificates to local grocery stores were included to provide the families with their turkeys. More details regarding the success of the Thanksgiving food basket drive – please note that this year, the National Honor Society had a disappointing number of donations – will be available at a later date.
By Anne Smith