By Kathy Norcross Watts
During the 2018 Crosby Scholars Community Service Fair, tables overflowed with plastic bags that students twisted into “plarn,” plastic yarn used by Operation Bedroll in Greensboro to provide insulated sleeping mats for homeless individuals.
“I just enjoy this because I’m helping people that I know need help,” said 7th-grader Elias Bankson, who was making plarn, “I feel like this is a good investment of my time.”
Seventh-grader Cooper Jackson agreed: “I know I’m helping out the community, and I get to spend time with friends.”
Each Crosby Scholar is required to complete two hours of community service each year, and many students exceed that minimum, with some students volunteering hundreds of hours. In 2018, Crosby Scholars completed 119,000 hours of community service.
This year’s Community Service Fair will be June 18th at Goodwill of Northwest NC to give students opportunities to earn service hours and to learn about volunteer opportunities throughout the summer and school year. In 2018, more than a hundred Crosby Scholars and 19 non-profits gathered during the summer Community Service Fair.
In another corner of the room, other Crosby Scholars crafted cards for individuals who would be discharged from hospitals into nursing homes.
Senior Laisha Medel enjoyed the hands-on creativity of card-making: she plans to study interior design when she graduates. She wants her message, “Keep your head up high, you got this,” to cheer those who may be facing challenging changes in their lives.
Students also had an opportunity to connect with 19 non-profits, where they may want to volunteer during the year.
“Volunteering helps to build self-esteem, leadership skills, and self-awareness,” explains Mona Lovett, President & CEO of Crosby Scholars. “It introduces our students to the community and to possible career paths for their future.”
Reynolds High School senior Skylar Beam joined Crosby Scholars as a 6th-grader because she knew it would help her prepare for college ─ she didn’t expect the community service requirement would help her decide her college major.
She found her passion when she volunteered at the Buddy Walk fundraiser for children with Down’s syndrome. She met the kids in an accepting, loving environment and assisted with arts and crafts and the walk. She volunteers as a hostess at the Joy Prom for adults with special needs and ensures they are enjoying their evening.
“I know I want to major in special education and minor in American Sign Language and do something to help kids with special needs who need that one-on-one support,” Skylar said. “If I would not have joined Crosby Scholars, I probably wouldn’t have realized I have a passion for these kids. I’ve just been drawn to them.”
Skylar received the bronze Presidential Service Award in the 10th grade.
“You get so much reward from volunteering,” Skylar said. “Personally, I just really love helping people. I feel so good about life in general and feel good when I go home each day, just to know I made a positive impact on people. Volunteering is the best way to do that.”