Community Service Continues Despite COVID-19

One of the many casualties of the Coronavirus pandemic has been the myriad of community service opportunities offered by both schools. At Belmont Hill there is no more poker with senior citizens at the Meadowbrook Nursing Home, no more visiting and teaching robotics at the Butler school, and even the Turkey Drive, one of Belmont Hill’s most iconic traditions, is a shell of its former self. At Winsor, volunteering in person at the Greater Boston Food Bank and hosting a Thanksgiving canned food drive are both out of the question. Nevertheless, our school’s community service programs have persisted and enabled students to give back to their communities, just in different, socially distanced ways.
At Belmont Hill, many of the staple community service programs have not been possible in their usual form. Nevertheless, Mr. George and Mrs. McDonald have been pioneering new ways to reach out to the communities around us. Of course, we all know about the revamped Thanksgiving Grocery Gift Card Drive, which over a dozen 3rd Formers helped to implement, and was, in Mr. George’s words, “resounding success.” As well, a group of Form I and II boys are helping to manage a clothing drive for Cradles to Crayons, an organization that distributes donated toys and clothing items to underprivileged children. Mr. George and Mrs. McDonald are also looking to implement a school-wide service initiative later in the year. When asked about what students could do to help over break, or if we end up going remote, Mr. George responded, “Over this Thanksgiving break, we encourage everyone to learn as much as they can about what challenges and needs are out there in our communities, and then consider how they might help make a positive impact. Coordinating with classmates and getting a good group of students mobilized around an idea is a great way to increase the benefit, while also making the effort a fun and rewarding social activity.”
At Winsor, community service looks different than it has in past years, but clubs like Boston Outreach, Food Bank, Mt. Pleasant and Greenwood have continued to come up with creative opportunities to serve the community. Boston Outreach members have made masks from old t-shirts, Food Bank uses their meetings to brainstorm solutions to food insecurity, Mt. Pleasant plans to send Senior Home residents paper snowflakes for the holidays, and Greenwood club members, who usually tutor students at a local elementary school in-person after school, now do that same over Zoom. The biggest community service opportunity at Winsor this fall, though, was a school-wide effort to raise money for Thanksgiving dinners for families in need. One of the heads of Boston Outreach, Delaney H. ’22, explained, “obviously, it’s been a challenge because we can’t go [volunteer] anywhere, but we are doing our best to be creative and still make an impact.” In just the first two days of fundraising, the Food Bank raised $700. Winsor’s community-service oriented clubs have taken this year’s challenges in stride and continued to make Winsor the community-minded place it has always been.
While it is by no means a normal year for community service, both schools are soldiering on and finding ways to help the people around them. Whether by donating or giving your time, we at The Panel and The Banner implore that you spend some time thinking of a creative way to give back to the people in your personal community.

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