Classwide volunteering opportunity leaves sophomores with a deeper understanding of unity and empathy

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  • Working together to seal a food bag, sophomores Paige Matthys-Pearce and Maura Collins contribute to the assembly line. The space was filled with eight tables with 26 to 30 people per table. “Knowing that I was working to make a difference in someone’s life and that I was surrounded by people who were all working together to achieve that goal–that’s why [I volunteered],” Matthys-Pearce said.

  • Scooping ingredients to fill the MannaPack, sophomores Aliana Sawall, Sarah Boland and Anna Newberry laugh over spilled rice Saturday, Aug. 17, at Greensfelder Recreation Complex in Queeny Park. Donations to Feed My Starving Children (FMSC) helped to purchase rice, soy, dried vegetables and vitamins, which then got packaged and sent to children in need. “We learned to not yell when one of us spilled something and to communicate better so that no one poured something into the funnel when the bag wasn’t opened yet,” Newberry said. “From this, [I gained] understanding that everyone is different, but we can still find a way to work together and be a unit.”

  • Holding the bag up to the funnel as sophomores Aliana Sawall, Sarah Boland and Anna Newberry pour in the ingredients, sophomore Mira Nalbandian prepares to weigh the bag. After weighing the bag, it got pressed and sealed and then sent off to pack. “It took a lot of teamwork to accomplish that goal,” Nalbandian said. “To me, unity means synergy. Not everyone is the same or believes in the same things, but we are working together to achieve a common goal.”

  • Pressing the air out of a pack to be sealed, sophomore Faith Reusch fulfills the sanitation procedures to ensure the quality of the food. Reusch, who was born in an orphanage in Russia, realized that it may have been her in that same position and was surprised by the diverse group of classmates who came to help out. “I definitely saw a lot of people who I did not expect to see there, who I didn’t think would take time out of their Saturdays to go volunteer, and it was cool to see,” Reusch said. “[It made] me realize that people definitely have more sides than we think, and we have different personal beliefs. You can’t always see that at school because you don’t always get to show what you really care about.”

  • Pouring a rice refill into sophomore Mira Nalbandian’s bucket, sophomore Nico Lionelli works to increase the efficiency of the food packing as sophomore Sarah Boland looks on. Lionelli performed the tasks of a floor runner, a volunteer expected to run extra supplies back and forth to the tables so that the process can flow smoother. “Unity is people working together as one unit to achieve a common goal. We were each doing our part,” Lionelli said. “People who are unified tend to want to help each other out and be productive with that unity. On Saturday, we got that opportunity to be able to serve others through our unity.”

  • Placing a bag on the funnel, sophomore class Principal Kate Piffel gets hands-on alongside her students in hopes of setting the example. Piffel’s mom taught her the importance of giving back from an early age, which Piffel hoped to share with her students through the food pack with Feed My Starving Children. “I think that it’s important that we learn how to give back, and that it’s not just about building a resume. For me, it’s also a way to promote unity within our own class,” Piffel said. “[Service] is an opportunity that brings people together, and it helps build empathy. It helps you learn about other people and put [yourself] in other peoples’ shoes. It helps you understand other people, [which] brings people together.”

  • Bracing the bucket to scoop soy protein blend, sophomore Ashley West helps to fill the bags with ingredients certified as halal, kosher and vegan. These qualifications helped the food packers ensure that whoever needed the food packs could utilize them and still value their own beliefs. “I have been blessed to be able to have everything that I need and what I want, and I kind of wanted to give back to people who didn’t have the necessities they need to survive everyday life,” West said.

  • As sophomores Sydney Slaven and Luke Wright look on, sophomore Santi Lugo measures out rice to place in the surplus bin. For Lugo, volunteering at the food pack was an opportunity to step outside his own life and instead focus on helping others improve theirs. “I think sometimes we get so caught up in our own lives and what we’re doing that we forget that there are people who need [help] and that we shouldn’t live our lives just for ourselves,” Lugo said. “[Living for ourselves] is kind of what school teaches you inherently, but not by fault. You worry about your grades, how you’re doing, what’s going on in your life, the sports you’re playing, etcetera that we forget to look out for others and just live for others.”

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