Volunteers find ways to serve community

Service events during pandemic include tree lot, food drive, clothes donations


Owen Akel | The Roundtable

Junior Bo Darwin carries a Christmas tree to a customer’s car at the Guardsmen Tree Lot as part of his community service commitment on Dec. 13. Darwin and other Stuart Hall students volunteered at the lot regularly during the holiday season, helping the organization sell trees to raise funds for at-risk youth in the Bay Area.

By Owen Akel, Web Editor

Student volunteers are finding ways to serve the community despite COVID-19 restrictions prohibiting large gatherings, ruling out many of the annual Christmas opportunities.

“Service is important to me because of how it contributes to those in our community who are in need – something that seems especially important given the times,” junior Gregory Kosmowski said.

Kosmowski, who volunteered at the Guardsmen tree lot, helped trim, net and tie trees to the cars of those who purchased a tree.

“It definitely wasn’t easy work considering we lugged around heavy trees for five hours,” junior Bo Darwin, who volunteered for the tree lot this year with Kosmowski, said, “but it definitely felt good knowing I was a part of the magical Christmas experience for many families and little kids.”

The Guardsmen, a non-profit organization, provides private school scholarships to children within the Bay Area and works to help at-risk children engage in out-of-city experiences “outside the confines of an often harsh inner-city environment,” according to its website.

“Summer camp was a major part of my childhood,” Kosmowski said. “I think camp is an experience that all kids should have and the fact that the Guardsmen facilitate that is a major part of why I serve there.”

Kosmowski says the work The Guardsmen do for disadvantaged children is especially relevant because of the COVID-19 pandemic’s disproportionate effect on lower-income families.

Students in Action, the school service club, is trying to offer as many service opportunities as possible for the Christmas season, even sending out a Google Doc filled with virtual service opportunities.

“It is important for Students in Action to offer students opportunities during COVID-19 because it helps spread awareness that there are many people put at a systemic disadvantage, especially during this pandemic.” Jaylen Chu, an SIA leadership team member, said. “Donating to those in difficult situations is a step forward in making their lives a little easier.”

Sophomore Julia Kearney has organized a cultural food drive that helps the Mission Neighborhood Center’s home-delivered grocery program.

“They provide culturally and religiously appropriate food to seniors and families with young children who may be struggling during this pandemic,” Kearney said about the center. “I think it’s especially important for the San Francisco community to support one another during this scary and overwhelming time.”

The donation window closed Dec. 11, and Kearney said that the drive was overall very successful.

“I haven’t counted all the donations for the month of December yet,” Kearney said, “but the bins at both campuses are looking rather promising. This drive will recur monthly. I want to engage our school in a project that strengthens San Francisco’s diverse community.”

Chu said SIA also organized a sock and underwear drive for the St. Vincent De Paul Homeless Shelter. SIA will continue to offer service opportunities for willing students in the second semester.

“Christmas is a time for giving,” Kosmowski said. “I love volunteering at this time of the year because I feel the work I do to help raise money at the tree lot helps an extremely good cause.”