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Norwalk Spear

Norwalk Spear

Norwalk Spear

Volunteer Hours: How they Build Community

The Norwalk Ministerial Association and why volunteering is an essential experience for all students
Travis Stanley
The Norwalk Christian Church youth group volunteers to package meals at Meals for the Heartland on March 1, 2023. Frantum said one way students can find ways to volunteer is through youth groups and activities.

All students at Norwalk High School are eligible to receive a Silver Cord at graduation to represent the hours they have given back to the community through volunteering. To receive this cord, each class requires 80 hours of volunteer work except for the class of 2024 requiring 70.

“Volunteerism, without a doubt, sets people up to be more aware of others as they get older,” said Marla Frantum, assistant principal at Norwalk High School. “The more you start doing things in your communities, the more involved you become.”

Frantum said the best way to gain volunteer hours is to find your interest areas. 

“Doing stuff through their outside clubs has been popular, and then also anyone that is involved in activities or athletics seems to find those hours pretty easy,” she said. “If you’re someone that’s involved in athletics, go work with little kids in athletics, or if you’re someone in activities, find ways you can share that with younger kids.”

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Frantum said there are plenty of ways to volunteer even after graduation. 

“If they’re going to college, go to their student centers there, and they’ll find lots of opportunities,” she said. “If they’re someone that is going to go right into the world of work, I would suggest going to the chamber and getting involved with boys or girls clubs, they’ll have tons of ways to help out in the community.”

The Norwalk Area Ministerial Association is one organization in Norwalk that gives back to the community in a variety of ways. Crystal Ellis, coordinator of the organization, said one of the biggest ways is Warrior Giving Wednesday.

“Warrior Giving Wednesday is when we collect essential items, things that every family or person would need, but it’s something that you cannot get with food assistance or with any other type of assistance through the government,” she said. “Some of those things that we don’t think about everyday as we use, but they are needed.”

Ellis said the event offers a different category of items each month, such as cleaning supplies or paper products.

“We have a month when we give away cleaning supplies, so just to be able to clean your house and feel like it’s actually clean, if you price cleaning products, they are expensive,” she said. “Another month we may have paper products, toilet paper, paper towels, tissues, or napkins. Just imagine if you didn’t have any toilet paper in your house and you didn’t have money to go get it.”

Ellis said Warrior Giving Wednesday is a great way for students to get volunteer hours within Norwalk.

“If anyone would want to try and help collect for Warrior Giving Wednesday, you would be able to count those hours,” she said. “That would be a huge help because it’s getting the word out and getting people excited about it.”

In addition, Ellis said this opportunity makes helping out easy.

“We have volunteer times for the donation drop-off time, that would be from 3:30-5:30, and that time requires going out to the car and greeting them and thanking them for their donation, grabbing it and logging it so we know how much we have,” she said. 

Correlating to Warrior Giving Wednesday, Ellis said the Ministerial Association works to put on the mobile food pantry.

“For the mobile food pantry, typically we would say mostly for the cleanup at 6:30 to help to put the tables up, help to pack up,” she said. “The cleanup would definitely be helpful, everyone is always tired by 6:30, and it would only be an hour, so not a big time commitment.”

Ellis said if students are in need of food assistance themselves, the high school recently started a food pantry within the school.

“It’s really open to anyone,” she said. “The student will need to contact their counselor, and the counselor will have the paperwork that needs to be filled out. As soon as they bring it back to their counselor, and throughout the day it will get bagged and ready, and they can pick it up.”

Ellis said the act of volunteering not only betters others, but betters yourself.

“To know that you can make a little bit of a difference, even if you can’t fix everything, it helps them, but in your heart and your soul you know that you really helped somebody,” she said. “Every time you have to tell your story over and over again, it can be deflating. We don’t want to deflate anyone, we want to lift them up.”

Tyler Davis, senior at Norwalk High School, said volunteering gives him a sense of accomplishment.

“It makes me feel like I am actually giving towards a cause,” he said. “I can physically see how I am helping these people out.”

Davis said he has many motivations behind volunteering.

“I volunteer at the Norwalk food pantry,” he said. “The reason why I do it is to help out the community of people who are less fortunate with food, and to also help out by giving assistance to the people who are unable to carry huge things.”

For Davis, volunteering at the food pantry includes multiple roles.

“In general, I am the carry-out person, carrying the food and carrying to vehicles,” he said. “My other position is also to sort out the veggies, as in those that are rotten to find good veggies, so that way everything can be sorted out.”

Davis said volunteering is an essential experience for all.

“I think physical work, or hands-on work, makes me feel more engaged in the situation, and makes me feel the real scope of the situation with people,” he said. “To see more of what people’s lives are like, just in that one place alone.”

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About the Contributor
Taylor Stanley, Editor
Taylor Stanley is a senior at NHS and editor for The Spear. Stanley is a second-year journalism student, and has been published in other publications such as the Warren Town and County News. Outside of the newsroom, Stanley is involved in marching band, jazz band, and show choir combo. “Something interesting about me is I have been to six countries outside of the U.S.,” she said. Stanley intends to major in journalism in college, and believes The Spear is a great way to learn about the career. “I joined The Spear to gain experience as a journalist before college, and learn how to dig deeper into the art,” she said.
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