Make Your Mark: liberty students lend a helping hand

With a growing aspiration to make an impact on the world, students across the nation are getting involved with community service in attempts to leave their legacy. The benefits of lending a helping hand can be both seen, and felt, by all those who have taken the opportunity to make a difference.

Amanda Roberts and Lorrin Johnson

Doing good deeds for others is not a new concept for most people, but never before has helping one’s community been something an entire generation is not only expected to do, but rather inclined to do. According to the Corporation of National and Community Service, volunteering among teenagers nearly doubled between 1974 and 2005, and those numbers have not stopped growing since.

Students at Liberty are certainly not exempt from this community service craze: 89% of students have volunteered before. Most people understand that doing community service is beneficial, but it’s still not easy to comprehend the reason why helping the community has become so prevalent in recent years.

98% of Liberty students who have previously participated in community service claim to have had an enjoyable experience, and many others claim that the experience was both rewarding and well-worth it. Memories that last forever, life-lessons, and once-in-a-lifetime experiences have been the result of community service for Liberty students.

Junior Allegra Messina, a veteran in community service, began her own community service organization, Serving Our Society (S.O.S.) back when she was in the sixth grade. Unsure where to begin her volunteer work, Messina has had the opportunity to experience a variety of different service projects throughout her involvement in community service. S.O.S. volunteers participate in a wide variety of events, from Food Lifeline to Special Olympics.

“My personal favorite is Special Olympics… because you get to connect with people, on a really personal level, a different level than you normally would.” Messina said.

Messina is not the only student involved with community service at Liberty; from traveling to Honduras for a mission, to completing Sports Med hours, many students at Liberty have taken advantage of opportunities to help others.

“We have a lot of things in our lives that are cool, so why not help people out,” junior Jacob Winter said. “There’s not really a reason not to; if you have the opportunity to help, go for it.”

To many students at Liberty, doing community service isn’t something that they are required to do. Rather, students help others because they want to.

“I honestly have not been involved with Honor Society hours or anything like that because I don’t think that’s what volunteering is about,” Messina said. “I think volunteering is something you volunteer to do, because you want to help people as much as you can.”

One of the hardest parts of getting involved with community service, as asserted by Messina, is having the courage to do something that may not provide direct gratification for you. A round of applause or a pat on the back may not be received, but many students at Liberty have learned to realize the little things that make helping others so worthwhile.

Senior Sam Dodt is a member for the Athletes for Kids program, an organization that matches high school athletes to special needs students, whom the athlete then mentors for the duration of their high school career. Dodt has had many memorable experiences with the program, and one of the little things Dodt appreciates is going to the zoo with his buddy.

“He has autism so he specializes in certain things. So he could list every single fact about a giraffe or something. When we go to Shnoo yogurt too he throws literally everything in his dessert and its gross, but he loves it,” Dodt said.

Community service comes in all shapes and sizes; Junior Kelly Le had the opportunity to travel on a mission with her church all the way to Honduras this past summer. She had experiences she will remember forever, not only because of what she saw, but how it made her feel.

“The best memory when I was in Honduras was when we went to this little village and there was this little kid who was crying and then someone kicked a ball to him and he kicked it back at my head and then started laughing really hard because it made him feel better,” Le said.

Community service means so much more than just signing off a couple of hours for Honor Society to students at Liberty. Helping others opens a gateway to so many other opportunities, not to mention the opportunity for unforgettable memories and experiences. It’s no wonder that a community service rage is sweeping the nation.

“I think that EVERYONE should get involved with community service to some degree; to understand how other people work, and to get an understanding of what you might like to do in the future,” Messina said. “It’s a really great way to learn how to talk to people, which is a skill you need for literally any job you could do. There’s really great trade-offs for both sides: you get some benefits, they get some benefits. Overall, people don’t know how great and fun it can be too.”