Listening to Madeline, truly a great hope for her generation!
We talk a lot about service learning; to have this remarkable high school freshman reach the enduring understanding that she has, inspires us to be better and do more!
Here is what Madeline had to say – “On October 16 Moses Brown School had it’s first Upper School Community Service Day of the year. Groups of MB students spread out all over the greater Providence and Narragansett areas to partner and serve with leading service providers such as: Providence Parks and Recreation Department, Save the Bay, various shelters, soup kitchens and urban playgrounds all to set the tone for and ground the Homecoming Weekend and exciting MB Believes EXPO in the Quaker tradition of service.
There were 22 MB students on my amazing service project at GiftsToGive in Acushnet, MA. Before arriving, our group had been told we would be packaging and sorting a variety of donations. When we walked in our eyes widened at each storage room we encountered. The shelves were packed with hundreds of boxes of toys and games in various conditions. We weren’t put immediately to work, first we got to meet on of the staff volunteers who reminded us why we were there. He first asked us simple questions about our privileges such as how many times a day do we have the opportunity to eat, or change clothes in a week or even in a day. Everyone raised their hand admitting what we have come to think of as more of a right than a privilege. Then he gave us some motivational statistics, such as 48 million children in America live in low income families or in poverty. This inspiring introduction set the tone and mission for our work- which included sorting clothes as well as organizing and fixing toys and games.
Each student’s enthusiasm and competitive nature was shown in the work all morning. We had fun competing for how many games we could fix and re-stack, or how many clothes we could fold and sort. As the journalist, I got to learn more about the goal of this organization and meet other volunteer workers. Over 1, 000 students volunteer at GiftsToGive each month, and about 400 adults volunteer a month, including lots of special needs and disabled adults.
There is a great sense of community at GiftsToGive. One adult volunteer I met named Patrick comes every Friday. Patrick as well as other volunteers working alongside us told me “it is a great way to start off their day feeling good and it is something he looks forward to.” One of my Freshman class peers, Shaan, said “It is admirable how many good people here offer their time when many of them are struggling with income problems themselves.” A Moses Brown Junior, Liza, said it helped her grasp “how we don’t often think of how privileged we are with basic daily necessities we take for granted. Other Moses Brown students all agreed that their service work at GiftsToGive impacted their attitudes, and increased their desire to help our community.
By the end of the morning, the sorted clothes and toys were assembled to create 22 large gift packages, each a combination of: shoes, clothes, supplies, and and toys. Each had been organized and assembled by our 22 MB students for a specific gender and age child in-need.
Our service day at GiftsToGive helped all of us become more aware of the realities and daily struggles surrounding key issues in children’s poverty. In the wrap-up session and on the bus ride home, it was clear that the true “gift to give” was the ethic and partnership of service, one that many of us look forward to passing on, and returning to the front lines of children’s poverty where GiftsToGive provides a light.”
By: Madeline, Moses Brown Freshman