As the holidays approach, more opportunities for volunteering and giving back to the community are opening.
Student-led organizations and Twin Cities service events increase around Thanksgiving and Christmas as the season allows more time off from school and an increased need as weather turns cold.
Sophomores are required to have six hours of service by the end of winter break, and a total of twelve hours by the end of spring break.
Melina Kannankutty, along with the other leaders of the Sophomore Class Leadership Council (SoCLC), hope to provide opportunities for students to get their service hours completed in groups. SoCLC works to organize the community into completing volunteer work and other activities, and focus on having student-led trips instead of being organized all by adults.
So far, SoCLC has set up a weekly service opportunity each Wednesday at Frogtown Farms at 946 Minnehaha Ave. W, St. Paul, where students can help with weeding and harvesting. There is no need to sign in, just be ready to show up and work.
“I’m hoping students will want to get involved by themselves, but I’m also hoping that a group would make it seem more of a fun activity rather than a chore. Doing something with your friends is always more fun than doing it by yourself,” Kannankutty said.
While SoCLC is planning service events for sophomores specifically, Community Action and Service is a club dedicated to volunteering opportunities open to all grades. One of the plans is a bedding drive after Thanksgiving break for My Very Own Bed, an organization working to provide beds to children in need. CAS is also signing up club members to pack food for Meals on Wheels, which works to deliver meals to seniors at risk of health, financial, and food insecurity. Finally, the club is planning multiple bake sales for the second semester.
“In terms of getting students involved, we offer service opportunities for everyone who is involved in the club. For students not involved in the club, we have a school-wide annual service day in the spring and we offer donation drives as well as bake sales throughout the year for students to donate supplies or money for good causes,” CAS leader Kat Bragg said.
CAS plans their service opportunities by reaching out to organizations they want to work with and assigning tasks to SPA club members such as submitting student newsletter and assembly announcements and gathering donation boxes.
“Sometimes specific people in the club or Dr. Moerer or other SPA community members will have connections with certain organizations with service opportunities we can be a part of,” Bragg said.
As the school’s Guide to Service describes, both organizations and students benefit from being involved in service.
“Service is important for many reasons, like being a part of your community,” Kannankutty said. “Helping your community can help integrate yourself into it, and it’s just a good thing to do and to be a good human being.”
Being involved with service can create connections to the broader community and is a way to bring people together through donating time or resources.
Many organizations offer holiday volunteering opportunities. For example, the Walk to End Hunger is a fundraising event that lasts for the entire month of “No Hunger November.” Participants can walk on a route in the Mall of America and help raise funds for hunger relief organizations. The Twin Cities Salvation Army also has a variety of seasonal opportunities during November and December, including delivering food baskets, selecting and bagging Christmas gifts, and distributing coats to children.