Middle schoolers making an impact in their community


Faith Wallace

Volunteering is looked at as one of the most impactful actions a person could do, it creates a powerful impact on the community. It also connects people to many real world issues, opportunities, and people.

Volunteering is often thought of as a social gathering, taking the stress out of people’s lives and giving to others in need, building a sense of empathy and purpose in one’s life. 

“I thought it was about time for me to give back to my community,” Arshya Maricar, ‘26, said.  

Maricar volunteered to organize the food pantry in her mosque so those who need food can get it easily. 

“At first I was kind of a bit skeptical about [volunteering] but when I started doing it, I just started to love it,” Maricar said, “It gave me happiness knowing I was making a difference even if it was a small one.”

It isn’t just a good feeling that you get. Research done at Opportunity Nation shows that “higher volunteerism rates are associated with lower rates of disconnected youth across all 50 states and the District of Columbia.” In addition, high rates of volunteering are connected to lower disparities in income. 

Volunteering is the gateway to civic engagement as a whole. It helps build a sense of community and instills civic engagement that can carry on into adulthood, as well as the continuation of skills such as problem solving, communication, and teamwork. Despite this, adolescent volunteers are often dismissed. 

“I’ve been looking for volunteering things for kids my age and everything and a lot of them are only for high schoolers, so I kind of have to wait to help out,” Maricar said. 

Volunteering activities for young people could be cleaning up the parks or organizing drive-throughs. 

“I think a lot of people assume that we’re not interested in this stuff and like we’re too immature to handle it or not dependable or responsible to do the work. They’re like ‘oh no we can’t trust these people. Oh well they’re too young’ or something. They don’t think we are capable enough to do work like that,” Maricar said. 

Despite those circumstances, she still plans on volunteering in the future. 

“I volunteer because I like the satisfaction of helping people and I also feel happy knowing I helped someone out at the end of the day. It’s not going to hurt too, it’s really fun,” Maricar said.

I volunteer because I like the satisfaction of helping people and I also feel happy knowing I helped someone out at the end of the day. It’s not going to hurt too, it’s really fun.”

Maricar believes that if everyone volunteered the world would be so much better.

“If people were more kind to one another I think the world would be in a far better place than it is right now,” Maricar said.

Maricar describes herself as studious but says that volunteering didn’t change her commitment to school. 

“It gave me empathy for people going through tough times because I didn’t completely grasp that understanding earlier but now I have an understanding of what they are going through,” Maricar said. 

Volunteering creates a sense of accomplishment for doing an act that doesn’t benefit you but those around you. 

“I think most people don’t want to [volunteer] because you don’t get paid to volunteer. People should volunteer more. It helps you see you’re not the only person in the world,” Saffie Manders, ‘26 said. 

Manders first heard of the Paralympics volunteering opportunity from her swim coach when she was swimming for Hydra. Her coach discussed having done it the year before and thought it would be fun. Her team decided to take up the volunteer act together. 

Her team went to the University of Cincinnati where the Paralympics, a swimming race for those with different impairments, was held.

“We were basket carriers so we would take down wheelchairs or crutches for people if they needed them when they got out of the water,” Manders said.

Manders has other volunteer experience such as helping pack food for homeless people at the freestore food bank downtown with her friends. Now she helps her community in other ways such as wearing a mask and picking up trash on the street. 

Both girls haven’t volunteered much during the pandemic due to the lack of opportunities and safety. “If you can find ways to volunteer safely and help someone that would be great right now,” Manders said, “People need help right now more than we think. Just things aren’t so easy and just being there and kind of supporting people and being that community for someone and doing it just because. You don’t want to get paid or you don’t want anything but to help someone.”