Get Involved! Local Student Volunteer Opportunities

3 mins read

Students have many priorities, from academics to extracurriculars and familial commitments. Despite this, many of us want to find ways to give back to our communities but don’t know how or where to start. For those interested in getting involved in the community, here’s a list of local student volunteer clubs and opportunities at M-A and beyond.

Care Bears

A great place to start getting involved in local service is with M-A’s own clubs! Care Bears is an M-A service club that creates care packages for migrant children at the U.S.-Mexico border. They collect donations of clothing, school supplies, toiletries, and monetary contributions. 

The club partners with Calexico Unified School District, located on the U.S. side of the southern border, to send donations to immigrant children in shelters. Junior Paulina Cisneros, president of the club, said, “It’s a really good experience overall because we’re able to connect with people that are so far away, and it feels really great.”

Care Bears club members organize donations for migrant children

In 2022, the club’s previous leaders won the Jefferson Award for Public Service, a prestigious recognition. Continuing their work, Cisneros encourages other students to join. She said, “It’s very inviting, and we’re open to new people. We’ll take any help we can get. Anyone would benefit from participating in it.” 

Care Bears meets Tuesdays in P-5.

Coastside Hope

Coastside Hope is a non-profit organization oriented around helping community members through a variety of programs, like providing access to food for those in need and assisting migrants with navigating the legal side of permanent residency. 

Volunteer Meredith Kasyan, who is involved with many service organizations, helped with food pantry stocking for several years. She started volunteering after retiring as she wanted a way to spend her free time. She said, “I wanted to be of service, but I wasn’t sure how.” Kasyan found Coastside Hope through first volunteering at the Redwood City Parks and Rec Department.

Coastside Hope’s food bank is open five days a week and also partners with Second Harvest Food Bank on the third Thursday of each month to help distribute food. The food bank is located about 30 minutes away in the town of El Granada.

The Discovery Shop

The Discovery Shop, located conveniently in downtown Menlo Park, is part of a non-profit, California-based thrift-store chain owned by the American Cancer Society. The location has been running for 55 years, and all the profits are donated to fund cancer research. 

The store is managed completely by volunteers, and students are welcome. Volunteers sort through donations, research items, and work up front at the cash register. The store offers flexible hours, which makes it a great option for students with changing and busy schedules.  

Kerry O’Donnell, the store’s senior manager, said, “[Volunteer hours] is really whatever people can fit into their schedule; it’s not set in stone. Some people come in all day, some come in for a couple of hours a week.” She suggests volunteers join in person. “To sign up, it’s really a matter of coming in and talking to us. It’s simple and easy that way.”

There are plenty of other opportunities to help the American Cancer Society, which can be found on their website. Families can also donate clothing, furniture, and other gently used items to the store. Donations are all tax-deductible.

Key Club 

Key Club facilitating games for children with special needs at the annual “Kiwanis Special Games” event

Key Club is an international service and leadership organization that has been running since 1925. From fundraising to beach clean-ups to feeding those with food insecurity, this club positively impacts our community. It often interacts with other high schools in our area, which is a great way to make friends outside of the school day. 

Junior Isabella Kha, the M-A chapter president, said, “Taking on a leadership position allowed me to share my own ideas and help organize fun events.” Kha also mentioned that joining the Key Club is extremely beneficial in college applications and looks great on your resume. “Members are able to receive internationally recognized awards and official service hours for their work,” said Kha. 

Last year, the M-A’s Key Club hosted a Chipotle fundraiser, a tote bag painting lunch, and a division-wide beach clean-up. Come to D-23 on Thursday to check it out!

Habitats for Humanity 

Habitats for Humanity is an international nonprofit organization geared towards efficiently building affordable homes for the less fortunate. They help build and restore homes that people can buy back for cheaper prices, as well as help the elderly maintain their homes. The chapter closest to M-A often works on houses in San Francisco and East Palo Alto. 

Students must be 16 or older to participate without parental supervision. Junior Molly Kilburn, who is involved with the organization, describes builds as “fun and rewarding.” Kilburn has participated in builds before, and said, “It’s a really great experience. Not only do you get to help out others, you also get to work on practical skills.”

These are only a couple of the many possible community service opportunities in the area, so make sure to go out there and find something that feels right for you. Kasyan said, “All non-profits are desperate for help and will be glad to have you. There’s so much need out there, so you have to figure out what you can and want to do for that need.”

Mackenzie is a junior at M-A and in her first year of journalism. She’s interested in writing about a variety of topics, especially those concerning our community here at school. She enjoys reading, hanging out with friends, doing art, and participating in theatre.

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