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Fall Term Community Service: Donating Time and Resources to Franklin County

While enjoying the fall term and everything it entails, students also found ways to donate both their time and resources to others. No aspect of community service was left untouched, with students helping others in a variety of ways, from raising money for charities around the world to refurbishing computers to be donated to those in need.

Over forty-five students participated in weekend projects, helping rake leaves or stack firewood for the elderly residents of Greenfield on Sundays. Community Service Board Member and Weekend Projects Coordinator Sarah Sutphin ’13 said, “Weekend projects are really special because they’re a chance to take a break from the stress of school and to go help others. The projects had not only an impact on the community members we assisted, but also the students who participated. Some students made such a connection with one elderly couple that they promised to come back and help again the next weekend.”

Paired with local Franklin county youth, thirty-five seniors spent their Friday evenings participating in activities ranging from pool night, arts and crafts, and pick-up games on the quad. The Big Brothers Big Sisters program allows students to forge meaningful relationships that provide their Littles (children ages 8—13) with a positive role model and friend. Community Service Board Member and Big Brother Big Sisters Coordinator Bobby DeNunzio ’12 witnessed the impact of the program with Dakota, his Little Brother.

“My favorite part of the Bigs program is watching Dakota grow older and more mature. He has a younger sister Jamie, who would steal Dakota’s seat at dinner. The first few times Dakota threw a tantrum, but I explained that Jamie wasn’t doing it to be mean. The next few times he handled it much more politely. When he saw that she stole his seat, he looked at me and smiled before sitting next to her without saying anything,” explained DeNunzio.

The seniors were not the only ones helping the community. The entire school joined together, along with both Eaglebrook School and the Bement School, to collect goods for this year’s food drive. Community Service Board Head Grace Mermel ’12 reflected, “The students participated so greatly this year because we all knew our efforts, great or small, were far from futile. With the turbulent economy, some Franklin County families have become heavily dependent on soup kitchens for a meal. Deerfield’s service had a direct impact on its neighbors.”
While thirty-one students participated in community service as a co-curricular, twenty-two teams and co-curricular groups volunteered at least once this fall. Varsity soccer hosted clinics for local youth while Elements helped the grounds crew with post-Irene clean up.

In addition, Hi-Chew sales helped raise over $665 for the Greenfield Literacy Project. Students’ efforts were felt far beyond the Pioneer Valley, though, with Choate Day face paint sales benefiting an orphanage in Cambodia where for the second time Mac McDonald ’13 will volunteer this summer. Over $900 was raised this fall.

Veronica Houk ’12 observed, that students not only gave to the community but took away experiences as well. One of the more than fifty students who volunteered at Second Helpings, a weekly program that provides Greenfield residents in need with a warm meal, Houk reflected, “Consumed by our own daily challenges, like taking three tests in one day or rushing to a game bus on Wednesday afternoons, we sometimes see the world beyond Deerfield as remote, but Second Helpings restores a sense of unity between the local community and us….As Greenfielders sit down to plates of hot food, many express their gratitude for the school’s generosity but our relationship is mutually beneficial. At one dinner, a man named Storm introduced himself to all of the participating Deerfield students and handed out flyers promoting a message of universal love and acceptance, and to me his actions summarize perfectly the fraternity upon which the Second Helpings spirit is founded.”

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