Students from six high schools spent Friday raking leaves, planting potatoes and otherwise helping non-profit organizations around the region for United Way of Greater New Bedford’s Youth Day of Caring.
In all, 100 students, helped out eight organizations, including the Community Boating Center, Buttonwood Park, Hazelwood Park, My Brother’s Keeper, West Beach and the YMCA Mattapoisett, in a day organized by United Way.
“I like helping,” said Angely Diaz, a freshman at Global Learning Charter Public School. “This is the world we live in. We have to take care of it.”
Angely and several of her classmates were cleaning the grounds at the Buttonwood Park Zoo, which she has visited since she was a child, and where she especially loves the elephants.
“They’re hard-working and want to learn,” Tom Rinquette Jr., maintenance forman, said of his volunteer crew. “It would’ve taken half the day to do this work without all their help.”
Students’ reasons for volunteering vary — to fulfill community service hours, enhance college applications and simply because they like to help. A gym teacher invited Savannah Sousa and Isander Algerin, juniors at the New Bedford Regional Vocational High School, to take part. They were among 14 of the school's athletes who volunteered at Sharing the Harvest Community Farm at the Dartmouth YMCA.
Savannah, the girls’ soccer team captain, Isander, who captains the football and boys lacrosse teams, and their fellow student-athletes worked with Trinity Day Academy and ROTC students. They planted 700 feet of potatoes, weeded, and prepared a radish bed and two pollinator beds in the children’s garden that young campers will tend all summer.
“I’m studying culinary arts,” Savannah said. “It’s good to see where the food we use comes from.”
Isander agreed, saying, “It’s amazing. We’re learning a lot.”
Asanté Raymond, a Trinity Day junior, learned to garden from his grandmother and said he was happy to use his skills at Sharing the Harvest, which grows food for people in need.
“I like doing this kind of work,” he said, as he placed seed potatoes in the ground. “And I’m helping the people who will get this food.”
UWGNB organizes a Youth Day of Caring every spring for high school students across the region. First Citizens’ Federal Credit Union and Tremblay’s Bus Company were sponsors of Friday’s activities.
“This day gives young people the chance to see how important it is to give back to your community,” said Victoria Grasela, VP of Marketing & Community Engagement. “They can learn at an early age how satisfying it is to volunteer, and how even the smallest contributions can make big differences.”
Looking to volunteer? United Way hosts Volunteer SouthCoast, an online database that connects volunteers with local opportunities to give back. Visit www.volunteersouthcoast.org.