buildOn Students in NYC Tirelessly Commit Themselvesto Holiday Service

In today’s blog post, program coordinator Mat Pryfogle from NYC updates us on some exciting holiday service happening in his region!

The New York Times Neediest Cases Fund is celebrating it’s 100th year and as part of their celebration they wanted to partner with NYC Service and engage high school youth in meaningful service. Together, they created a fantastic set of celebratory projects happening during the 2011 holiday season. Everything was set and all that was left was finding students to take part in the exciting service events. After having mixed results trying to recruit students from targeted high schools for service, someone thought of buildOn.

When originally approached, buildOn was asked to recruit students for three events, but within a couple of weeks that list had doubled. Around 50 buildOn students from schools in Manhattan & Brooklyn helped to put on six different events occurring in three different boroughs.

[pullquote]On their own, the students took several trays of unused food and began to visit shelters to see if any of them could make use of the food surplus.[/pullquote]

Students have prepared and served four holiday meals in partnership with the Children’s Aid Society & Masbia as well as to put on two holiday parties while working with Catholic Charities Brooklyn & Queens. They did this in addition to all the service and work that they normally do each week but with so much more enthusiasm and excitement.

Perhaps the best example of how amazing the students have been during these holiday celebrations took place on November 23rd, or the eve of Thanksgiving. A group of 14 students from Frederick Douglass Academy traveled to the Dunlevy Milbank Center to help prepare and serve a Thanksgiving meal to children taking part in an after school program as well as local community members. The buildOn students originally expected to only be at the event until six o’clock but upon arriving were asked if they could stay longer. Every single student said yes without hesitation. The students spent their time not only preparing and serving food but also helping to clean the center itself. As the dinners ended, the students were told they could return to their homes but again they said that they would stay until everything was completed.

During the cleanup, a couple of students noticed that a lot of food was leftover & asked what was going to be done with it. A staff member told them the food would simply be thrown away but that they were welcome to it if they wanted it. So, on their own, the students took several trays of unused food and began to visit shelters to see if any of them could make use of the food surplus. When their arms were tired from carrying the food, they were able to flag down a taxi and convince him to take them to a nearby shelter without charging them a fare. It took them three shelters to get rid of all of their trays of food but all they could think about was what they had accomplished and how much fun they’d been having.

The tireless energy of students like these has helped to make these NY Times Neediest Cases events a tremendous success. A huge thank you to the students from PACE High School, Frederick Douglass Academy, Manhattan Center for Science & Math, Stuyvesant High School, The International Arts & Business School & The Grand Street Campus who took part in these events for their continued dedication to service & buildOn. You are the true leaders of today.