Hampton students observe MLK Day through volunteerism
Seniors citizens are benefitting from volunteer efforts of Hampton students, thanks to the MLK Day of Service on Jan. 15.
The national volunteer day invites people to participate on the day to give service to others in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. This is the second year that Hampton Township High School students were encouraged to participate in the movement, including a volunteering opportunity at the North Hills Community Outreach.
Students were provided transportation to the nonprofit to craft Valentine's Day cards and prepare care packages for local senior citizens through the NHCO, said Michael Amick, assistant principal at the high school.
“They had a need for helping senior citizens and that seemed like a really great fit.”
Ten students and two teachers spent four hours making almost 200 Valentine's Day cards as well as small care packages of gloves, socks or scarves to go along with it, said Jennifer Kissel, director of communications for the NHCO.
Isabella Latal, a sophomore who volunteered at the NHCO, said the best thing about volunteering was “being able to create something homemade for the seniors ... to give a gift that is meaningful.”
Kerry Keegan Mulhern, NHCO's In Service of Seniors team leader, organizes the nonprofit's Service for Seniors and Free Rides for Seniors. She said these efforts are far reaching for the elderly who may be at home all day without much social interaction.
Amick said to his delight the student volunteers were later asking if they could help deliver the cards without anyone suggesting it. Mulhern said they are making arrangements with students to deliver them on Valentine's Day week.
“This would be a great opportunity to open the door to volunteering outside of the MLK holiday,” said Mulhern.
Mulhern said the students were so creative and being a homemade card will really mean more to the recipients.
Last year, the district provided a volunteering opportunity at Animal Friends, which Amick said they kept as a second option for this year as well. He hopes they can grow the volunteering efforts each year. Students were also encouraged to provide a day of service on their own.
“The value of volunteering is they see the impact they can make as individuals and reflect on Dr. King's message of doing something positive in the community,” said Amick.
All students were encouraged to share their experiences at school. And they'll be celebrating with an ice cream social at the end of the month, he said.
Mulhern reminds others that volunteering is something that can be done all year-round, especially as she focuses on the elderly, who have to deal with isolation and loneliness.
Kissel said Service of Seniors matches volunteers with seniors who might need “a ride to the doctor or grocery store, want someone to help them read their mail, shovel their walk or just provide a friendly visit. “
“These services help the senior remain living safely in their home. Without these and other volunteer services, many seniors would have to move to assisted living facilities earlier than they do,” said Kissel.
Mulhern said all of the NHCO volunteer efforts are available on the website at nhco.org.
Natalie Beneviat is a Tribune-Review contributor.