During finals week, I took a trip to The Salvation Army with two of my sisters and another McDaniel student that was interested in doing community service. As soon as I heard about this project, I was very excited about it and really wanted to go. Even though it was right before the day I had a final and a presentation, I still thought it would be a blast!
The biggest challenge was fitting all of the donations into our cars. We had bags and bags of stuffed animals and a few boxes of books that we were bringing to donate when we volunteered. Because of this, even though there were only four of us going, we still had to take two cars since my trunk and backseat were stuffed! After arriving and bringing in all of our donations, we were led to a huge warehouse. The warehouse was filled with boxes, each with a number on them and names and ages of children in the family. We were given a short orientation by Peggy, the volunteer coordinator. We had to pick a box, which represented a family, then go “shopping” in the bins of toys. Our goal was to try and find toys that the children asked for, but if we couldn’t find them, we chose toys for them that were age appropriate. We also had to put clothes into the boxes. Each child was given one or two outfits, a pair of shoes, and a coat if they asked for one. Some of the families also asked for socks, underware, and pajamas. It was so much fun to go through the boxes of clothes, which were all donated, and pick out outfits for the children. My favorite outfits I picked out were for a 10 year old girl. I picked out jeans, a Cinderella t-shirt, Disney Princess pajamas, Disney Princess socks, pink shoes, and a pink coat! The hardest thing to figure out were the shoes. Since I don’t have any younger siblings, I had no idea how to understand children’s shoe sizes!
Overall, the project was a lot of fun. I loved looking through all of the toys and picking out items for the children, especially because I know that the children I was sorting toys for do not have very much, so they will be grateful for anything that they are given. I was shocked that there were so many toys to choose from. A lot of the toys were newer toys and I know that some of them are very expensive! It touches my heart to see so many donations that will help children in need have something to open on Christmas morning. My hope is that people will not just walk past the people from the Salvation Army ringing bells outside stores this holiday season! Those donations go to helping children have something to open on Christmas!
Joy, Kelsey, Whitney, and myself after a night of volunteering!
On Saturday, I went and helped out at the Flying Feet Burk Memorial 5K Run for my sorority, Gamma Sigma Sigma. The run was about five minutes away from campus at a place called the Wakefield Valley Community Trail, and it was a running club that put the whole thing together. I went with three of my sorority sisters. We were quite a sight to see at 7:30 in the morning! We were all bundled up in order to combat the cold weather of the early morning.
When we got to the location, we were at a corner which marked the two-mile mark of the 5K (a 5K is a little more than three miles). We met Sam Lopez, who works for the CEO on campus, there. She told us that we would be working the water station at the corner, but that due to the cold, most people wouldn’t want water. If we weren’t handing out water, we could also cheer the runners on and give them our support. She also told us that we would be working with Middle School and High School students that are involved in the Higher Learning Program. Before we started, Sam wanted to read something to us from a book that was written by the director of Flying Feet. Since Sam and I know each other and she knows I’m a Secondary Education minor, she asked me to read the passage to everyone, since I could practice my “teacher voice.” Since there ended up being so many volunteers from different campus organizations (Gamma Sigma Sigma, Alpha Phi Omega, and Phi Delta Theta), we ended up splitting up and becoming different cheering sections. We situated ourselves half-way up the hill that was the last obstacle between the runners and the finish line, while another group went to the finish line to congratulate people on being done. As runners started to come by, we cheered for them to encourage them.
There were two fantastic things about this service project. The first was that the runners seemed grateful to have our support as they were going up the large hill and many of them thanked us. The second was that it really inspired me to get myself in shape so that I can run a 5K in the near future. My real goal is to do the Disney Princess Half Marathon, which takes place every February. Since I’m nowhere near ready, that won’t happen for a while, but in order to train for it, I have to start small! So, it’s time to get myself in shape and run a 5K!
This weekend, my sorority, Gamma Sigma Sigma held it’s first ever district event. The chapter hosted two other chapters in a Day of Service. Most of the details for this large day of service were planned by my little, Whitney. As I watched the event come together piece by piece, I could not have been prouder to call her my little. The day of service had a mission: to serve or raise money for each of our five Service Partners, so naturally, we had to come up with five different service projects. We had a lemonade stand for Alex’s Lemonade Stand Foundation, a raffle for Mothers Against Drunk Driving, prize balloons for March of Dimes, bandanna decorating for the American Cancer Society, and a life-sized Monopoly game for American Red Cross. The monopoly game was not regular Monopoly though-it was McNopoly! Monopoly McDaniel style!
Whitney and I had so much fun coming up with ideas for what would be on each square, so we could tie it all together and make it McDaniel themed. Then, with the help of some other sisters, we managed to take two pieces of blank canvas and turn it into a Monopoly board. The entire process was fasctnating. It was so much fun to see it go from the canvas, to a bunch of lines drawn in pencil to the full-scale board in color. Not to mention, I loved watching other people have fun playing the game that we created. We really had the support of other organizations on campus, since they came and played Monopoly to help us raise money. The Monopoly game itself raised $200 for the American Red Cross, and we’re hoping to give it to the Hurricane Relief Fund when we donate it.
Overall, the day was super successful! We raised over $400 for our five service partners and had a blast doing it! I loved bonding with my sisters from other chapters while being able to raise money to help others!
This weekend, I volunteered at Westminster’s Fall Fest, which is held every fall and raises money to benefit four local charities. I volunteered at the Make-Your-Own-Scarecrow Tent that was operated by the Stacy Davis Breast Cancer Fund. At the tent, which was decked out in everything pink, people could pay $10 in order to build their own scarecrow. The coordinators from the Breast Cancer Fund also had us selling raffle tickets and jewelry so that we could help them make as much money as they possibly could.
Making a scarecrow was something I had never done before, so when I had to help the little kids make their scarecrows, it took a lot of effort. In order to make a scarecrow, you have to shove handfuls of hay down pantyhose to create the arms. Then, you shove the “arms” through a shirt. After that, you tie the pants legs so that they are shut, and then shove the pants legs with hay as well. Then, you connect the shirt and the pants to finish making the body. Each child was given a face kit so that they could decorate the faces of the scarecrow and then finish it off with a hat.
The children that were making the scarecrows had a lot of fun and thought it was really cool to see their scarecrows come together. For me, it was a new experience that I feel like I will never forget, since it was something that I have never gotten a chance to do. I also really enjoyed having the chance to help the little kids make their scarecrows, since I felt like I was really making their night better while also helping a great cause.
My sorority decided that this semester, we would collect Box Tops for Education in order to help out a local middle school, West Middle School. It’s within walking distance of campus, so we figured it would be a nice school to donate to. In order to participate in Box Tops for Education is that you collect them off products and save them for the school of your choice. If the school is participating in the program, they can send in the Box Tops and get ten cents for every Box Top. While it might seem silly, it can really add up. Last year, the school that my mom works for sent in 15,000 Box Tops, which means that they got a check for $1,500!
While saving Box Tops off of things has always been second nature to me, since my family always saves them for my mom’s school, things are a little different now that I have an apartment on campus. Due the fact that food is expensive, I am not always looking for which products have Box Tops on them, but rather which ones are the cheapest and fit into my food budget. Each member is allowed to turn in 50 Box Tops this semester for service hours, so I decided that I would try to find as many as I could. Not to mention, it’s nice to know that the 50 Box Tops that I collect will mean a $5 donation for West Middle School. I did some investigating, and their goal is to raise enough Box Tops to total $924! That means they need a lot of Box Tops!
While I was at home in New Jersey this weekend, I came up with a simple solution: I raided my mom’s pantry and took the Box Tops off of everything I could find. I went through every box of cereal, every Betty Crocker product, and every box of Ziploc Bags and trash bags. I searched the pantry high and low (literally…I even got up on a chair to reach the things that were on the top shelf) and ripped Box Tops off of whatever I could find. My parents were confused at first, since they had no idea what I was doing, but then agreed to help me. My search was successful and I was able to gather most of the Box Tops I needed. I would have never thought I would have gone so crazy to do something as simple as collecting Box Tops, but when I turn them in, it’ll be a good feeling knowing that I’m helping the children of West Middle School. Not only was it something easy, but it was a lot of fun too!
Last weekend, I went to Monarch Madness at Bearbranch Nature Center, ready to volunteer on a beautiful Sunday morning. When I was asked to help out Miss. Mary at the butterfly table, so that I could write down tag numbers, I thought for sure it would be boring, but it turned out to be fantastic. Every year, Bearbranch has Monarch Madness to celebrate the Monarch butterflies starting their migration to Mexico. Part of what they do is called tagging the butterflies. They take butterflies that have been reared at the center or that are caught in the wild and put identification tags on them, so that when they make it to Mexico, the center can find out. The process is quite simple, but amazing at the same time. Before releasing the butterflies into the wild, they are fed honey water, which is just a mixture of one part honey and five parts water. As a volunteer, I was given the chance to feed the butterflies, which was an experience I’ll never forget. In order to feed them, you have to find their proboscis with a toothpick and unfold it so that it is in the water. Their proboscis is like their tongue and that is how they get nutrition, since Monarch butterflies are on a liquid-only diet. After they are fed, the butterflies get a little sticker on the back of their front wing, which is also recorded so that the information can be entered into a computer to help track the butterflies. Once the butterflies are tagged and their information is recorded, we picked a child that we would use as a launching pad to let the butterflies go.
While I learned a lot about Monarch butterflies during this service project, the coolest thing was the reactions of the little kids. When we were telling them about the butterflies and what we have to so that they are ready for their journey to Mexico, the little kids got really excited about being a part of letting them go. For every butterfly, we got one volunteer to help us release them. We put the butterfly on the child’s finger, the top of their head, or their nose. Some of the parents were able to get fantastic pictures before the butterflies flew away. The kids were fascinated with learning all about how a butterfly becomes a butterfly and also with how to tell a male and female apart. We were happy to explain the differences to them and show them some of the differences between a male and a female Monarch butterfly. The entire experience was one to never forget, and even I learned a lot about Monarch butterflies!