Students feel the impact of their volunteerism

By Kristen Hammer 2009

Good grades. Check. Class president. Check. Varsity athlete. Check.

You’re applying for colleges, and you think you’ve got everything you need to make admission officers send you an acceptance letter without a second glance. Check again.

Admission to college is becoming increasingly competitive, and not only is traditional academic criteria considered, but involvement in a community throughout high school carries a heavy weight.

Volunteer work shows compassion and generosity and sticks out like hot pink print amidst a sea of black and white applications.

Many CFHS students are getting the message and signing up for mission trips, working without pay at non-profit businesses and giving their time to soup kitchens, homeless shelters, etc.

One junior, Kellie Petersen, has been working since she was a sophomore at Main Street’s World’s Window, a fair trade shop that sells the arts and crafts of men and women trying to support families in developing nations.

Shoppers buy the various jewelry, pottery, baskets and sculptures, and the majority of the profit returns to the artisans.

“I usually volunteer one or two Saturdays a month. I help customers and run the cash register, but sometimes I clean too,” Petersen said.

As many students as there are who volunteer locally, just as many give their time to humanitarian projects around the nation. Recently, in fact, kids were flown or bused over spring break to New Orleans; Philadelphia; God’s Mountain’s, Mo; Dallas and San Francisco to serve in a variety of ways.

Teams of kids pulled together to build homes, bag groceries, aid in the Katrina relief and reach out to the homeless populations emotionally, physically and spiritually.

Sam Jones, a junior, was one of those who spent the week in the Tenderloin of San Francisco.

Being born and raised in Cedar Falls, within hours Jones went from a predominantly white, middle class neighborhood to the sketchiest, highly diversified area of San Francisco notorious for drug sales, homelessness, crime and prostitution.

Jones handed out sack lunches and ate with the homeless during the day, and when the sun went down and the infamous night life erupted, he took to handing out hot chocolate to passer-by.

On one particular day, he and his fellow volunteers had to be “homeless.” They were awakened early in the morning and kicked out of the building by their staff and told not to return till the following evening.

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