Think win-win: AHS program encourages students to help charities
Published 2:11 am Saturday, January 27, 2018
By CHRISTOPHER SMITH
An Andalusia High School program that encourages community service, and in turn, provides volunteers for local community organizations.
“Although the program is voluntary, a lot of students participate in it because they want to be competitive for those scholarships that they are applying for,” Cavelle Jones, the director of the community service program, said.
The St. Vincent De Paul Society at Christ the King Catholic is among the agencies which benefit from helping students with their community service hours.
“We have a lot of kids come and help from Andalusia High School with the food bank,” Susan Gantt of St. Vincent De Paul Society, said. “Around every holiday a group from the Anchor Club helps fill baskets for the poor and decorate them according to the holiday.”
Gantt said that when students come to earn community service hours they will have to sign a confidentiality form before being able to serve.
“We do help out a lot of the poverty stricken community so we don’t want their names to be out in the open,” Gantt said. “The students usually help in our food bank and help bring groceries to their car once our clients have gotten everything they need.”
Gantt said that a lot of the kids that they trust and have signed the confidentiality agreement have racked up almost 200 to 300 hours of community service.
“I honestly believe it can be a lesson to these kids when they see what we do here at St. Vincent De Paul,” Gantt said. “They can learn early on in life that people do live in poverty and that they can really help. They can learn about the true dignity of all humans and we can’t help but be proud of the students that help our community.”
While having volunteered can be helpful for students competing for scholarships, at AHS, they are also recognized with honor cords to wear during baccalaureate and graduation ceremonies
“I believe its important to reward the kids when they achieve something so important for our community, and it gives them something to work forward to,” Jones, the sponsor, said.
There are three levels of recognition. Those completing 200 to 399 hours of service earn light green cord; those completing 400 hours or more earn a dark green cord; and those completing more than 500 hours earn the Exceeding Expectations medal.
Students can earn hours that count toward this goal by:
- United Way agencies
- Nonprofit agencies
- Special Olympics
- School Volunteer programs
- Chamber of Commerce events
- Political action
- Nursing homes, Hospitals, non-profit clinics
- Service club activities that provide a benefit to the community
- Being an after-school tutor
- Hours deemed acceptable by service coordinator
Counselors in the county school system said that although county schools do not have an awards program, they do encourage kids to participate in community service and have several clubs that are involved with serving the community.