Community Service Club Instills a Service Mindset in Students

On Martin Luther King Day, Solebury School student Carly Feld '19 and 55 other students, teachers, and parents made cozy fleece blankets for Alliance Cancer Specialists in Doylestown. Inspired by the experience of a classmate's father, Carly wanted to lessen the discomfort experienced by many chemotherapy patients. "Almost everyone is affected by cancer," she explained. "We are hoping to make this an annual tradition."

Meanwhile, Elke Krieger '18 worked with classmates on up-cycling furniture to be sold at the Network of Victims Assistance (NOVA) Thrift Store. NOVA supports, counsels, and empowers victims of sexual assault and other serious crimes in Bucks County and works to prevent and eliminate violence in society through advocacy, training, community education, and prevention programs. (Hotline #800-675-6900, 24 hours a day).

"Student involvement can make life better for victims of crime right here in our county," explains Nancy Vander Zwan, Solebury parent and NOVA volunteer. "We often get pieces at the Thrift Store that could earn real money for us if they were refurbished. But we don't have the time and, frankly, we are limited in our creativity. This important partnership offers community service experience for the students and provides counseling and services for people in need."

"If we make a chair nice enough to sell for $50, for example," adds teacher Sarah Sargent, Community Service Coordinator at Solebury School, "that provides the resources for what it takes to represent a victim in court or to provide a training class."

The Martin Luther King day of service is just the latest effort from the Solebury School Community Service Club to better their school and the world around them. "Service is at the core of our community. We work hard to show our students how to turn their philanthropic impulses into action and provide opportunities for service," said Sarah. "While the Service Club is new this year, it's rooted in a tradition of service that goes back decades."

Earlier this year, the Club raised over $3000 for hurricane victims and organized a trip to volunteer at Tabby's Place, a no-kill shelter for cats. They arranged for 15 students to volunteer at Carversville Farm Foundation, a farm providing healthy options for food-insecure families in the area. This spring, club member Ellie Herman '18 is organizing a collection drive to assemble hygiene kits for women affected by natural disasters across the globe. This is the focus of her capstone project for Teach2Serve, Solebury School's rigorous multi-year program that inspires students to create solutions to problems they identify in the world, often through community service.

"We want to solidify a service-mindset in students while they're young," explains Jacob Potter '19, a first-year student who helped get the club off the ground. "Teenagers want to help, but don't always know where to start. They're invited to come by and see what's up — everyone is welcome."