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    • Brian Seiter ’19 and Kenly Burton ’19 advertise their club, Hopkins Cancer Awareness, at the fall Community Service Fair.

    • Hopkins students volunteer at Columbus House, serving chicken and potatoes to those at the shelter.

    • Hopkins students from the Class of 2022 fundraise for the Connecticut Food Bank, an all-school community service endeavor, during the holiday season.

Hilltoppers for Humanity: Community Service on The Hill

Jeffrey Gu '18, Features Editor
Hopkins and Community Service. You must be thinking Canned Food Drive, right?
You must know the statistics: that our record number is 2015 StuCo President Will Simon’s $97,069.27, that over the course of the past ten years, Hilltoppers have raised $679,528.68 during our annual fundraiser for the Food Bank; you must know that we’re the single largest donor to the CT Food Bank.

Impressive, yes. Still this article isn’t about all that. Community service on The Hill is greater than even that awesome number and continues to be one of the prominent cultivators of the Hilltopper image. Our students run 34 Community Service Clubs ranging from Hopkins Cancer Awareness to Save the Elephants to Education for Children. This diversity is a source not only of pride, but also recognition for the diverse interest of service to which Hopkins students adhere. But community service isn’t all about the numbers. Community service is about the experience and takeaways of each individual and the continual effort to give more to the community around us.

According to
the Hopkins Handbook, the intent of Community Service at Hopkins is “to expose every student to the deep satisfaction that derives from service to others.” 

Community Service Director Alissa Davis builds off that statement discussing the significance of building a two-way service model, emphasizing the “benefits both for the person who is doing the work and the person who is receiving the work, where there is learning that happens for both sides.” Davis and other members of the Community Service Board are still crafting an official Hopkins Community Service Mission Statement.

Freshman Lien Har ’21 agreed with Davis, adding, “At Hopkins, for many activities, it’s like you have to do something for something, but for community service, it’s about doing some
thing that won’t benefit you materialistically. You get repaid in value. It teaches you leadership skills and is good for your soul.”

Good for your soul, indeed. Brian Seiter ’19, a club head for Hopkins Cancer Awareness emphasized why that goodness extends beyond just good feeling saying, “It’s important to help people who can’t help them
selves, to support fields that can’t create all the funds on their own such as cancer research, such as refugee support.”

Freshman Student Council Representative Crai
gin Maloney ‘21 added, “Hopkins does a great job having enough opportunities. There are a lot of ways to participate.”

Still, students believe there is room for improvement. Kiarra Lavache ’18 said, “Having bake sales and raising money is always a good thing, but a lot of students at Hopkins would really prefer to get more hands-on with community service, to go a
nd volunteer somewhere rather than just baking and raising money. That feels a lot less personal, and I’d rather go out there and do something hands on so I really feel like I’m making an impact.”

Hopkins Fights Adolescent and Young Adult (AYA) Cancer head Chan
tel Malin ’18 agreed saying, “Hopkins service is little bit too removed right now.”

In terms of how the school could move towards a more integrated service pro
gram, Cam Maquat ’19 suggested that “Hopkins could do more with local service,” adding that more class trip days for Community Service could provide greater opportunities for personal growth and the ‘brightening of horizons.’

Lavache ’18 approved of Maquat’s plan,
saying, “Grades 7-11 should be doing more. If there were more trips going on throughout the year, where the seniors would do all of theirs in the final week, other grades could do just one day at a time throughout the year and commit the same amount of time.”

Davis drove home the importance of service in high school, commenting, “There are a lot of good reason to do community service. One reason is to get outside 
of the bubble we all live in in our own little worlds because as we start to define community more broadly-- it could be the community here at home, a community in the city, or the community that we live in as the world, it’s really important to get out there and see it. In adolescence, it’s the perfect time because you’re learning so much about the past in your classes, you’re learning critical thinking skills, and you’re asking a lot of questions, so it’s a per- fect time to be getting out there and thinking about how all of these forces in our world affect others.”

Maroon Key head Eli Sabin ’18 elabo
rated on Davis’ statement, saying, “There are some things that can’t be taught in a classroom. We need the next generation to understand that about 20% of American children live in pov- erty and that they need to do something to fix it.”

The Maroon Key service club at Hop
kins is, as Sabin described it, “the umbrella com- munity service organization at Hopkins...tasked with the role of talking with the administration about how the community service program works at Hopkins.” Along with club heads Amber Jaffe ’19 and Allie Sokol ’18, Sabin hopes that the Hopkins community takes advantage of the chance to “get out more to look around at the world we live in.” Deniz Tek ’20 echoed Sabin’s statement saying, “Hopkins is in a very isolated bubble, most of the people here are from very good backgrounds and have pretty stable family situations and if you have to see the rest of the world and even just America, itself, even just in Connecticut, there are a lot of people who are suffering and who don’t have the same options and opportunities that we do.”

Aracy’s Friend’s Participant Elise Aslanian ’19 said, “There should be more specialized programs like Aracy’s Friends or Columbus House that have more interactive bases. Students need to invest more in programs that they are passionate about, not just starting clubs that may look good on paper.”

Columbus House head Liana Tilton ’19 said, “Columbus House is a really hands on experience where you really get to interact with the people there. You realize that they aren’t that different from us; they’ve just met less fortunate circumstances.”

Ranease Brown ’21, who recently helped serve food in the November Hopkins trip to Columbus House, added, “You’ll feel you know more about the communities around you and you’ll feel more aware. When you’ve seen what’s around you, what people are going through, it’ll add to your knowledge, not only for book smarts, but also for what the community needs.”

Malin ’18 emphasized that any small donation helps,
whether temporal or monetary. While taking the time to meet the people you’re helping, students are “seeing the difference you are making, meeting the received all the funds that you’re raising and how that is helping people, that there are real people behind it that need what you are doing for them” is significant to the core of giving back to community, many Hilltoppers express that with already loaded academic and extracurricular commitments, it can be difficult to give up additional free time. For this, Seiter ’19 noted that, although “it can be tough to get out there and do hands-on activities,” there are always other ways one can help, whether baking or fundraising, any way possible.
 
“We are the next generation. We’re going to be the adults, however scary that may be, and it’s our world that we’re going into. We all have a burden to give back to the society that has given so much to us. We’re at this great school, we’re at this great place and we should show that we’re thankful for that,” said Karyn Bartosic ’18.

For those looking to join the growing student body interest in giving back, Davis gave insight into an important upcoming event: “The annual toy drive, which is around the holiday season, is an event where we will need tons of participation. Little kids get to make a choice on what might be the only present that they’re asking for, the only present that they’ll be able to unwrap. Each year, Hopkins supplies almost 
100 gifts. We’re hoping to see a lot of good will and follow through this year so that every child gets what they wished for.”

The call is out. It’s up to you. 
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