HCC students spent part of Spring Break volunteering at Holyoke’s Kelly elementary school
They could have stayed home, slept late, taken it easy. It was. after all, the first day of Spring Break, so why not relax?
But no. Instead, a dozen HCC students volunteered Monday to work at Holyoke's Kelly Elementary School, where they dusted shelves and sorted books in the library, picked up trash and leaves around the playground, and painted the school gymnasium.
"I figured it was a better use of my time to come and give something to the community, rather than just staying home," said Elizabeth Eveson, who lives in West Springfield.
The students who took part represented a wide variety of HCC student clubs and groups, including the International Students Club, CommITTED Club, Black Student Alliance, Students on the Autism Spectrum, Anime Club, Green Key Honor Society, STEM Club and Student Senate.
Every HCC student club is required to perform some type of community service project each semester, said Student Clubs coordinator Lauren Le Clair. To fulfill that requirement, clubs often hold fundraisers, such as bake sales, and donate the money to nonprofits. Last fall, for instance, a few student clubs raised money for the Special Olympics and for the HCC Foundation, which awards student scholarships. Clubs also collected non-perishable food items for the HCC Food Pantry.
Monday's day of service was the first time representatives from so many different HCC clubs combined their resources on a single community service project, Le Clair said.
"We thought if we all got together with just a couple of people from each club we could do something bigger within the community," she said. "I had worked at the Kelly School last summer, so I knew they needed a lot of help."
Eveson, a member of Students on the Autism Spectrum, Green Key and the Anime Club, spent the morning in the school library with about a half dozen other volunteers, including HCC's new president, Christina Royal, who helped with the sorting, organizing and dusting of children's books.
"I'm really excited that HCC embodies a culture of service and giving back to the community," she said. "I'm happy to have an opportunity to work with a school that is resource constrained and help them get to projects they might not be able to get to on their own."
Kelly principal Jackie Glasheen said the library, playground and gym desperately needed some attention.
"The help from HCC is huge," she said. "The students have split up into three groups, so they're going to impact the inside and the outside, and it'll be terrific."
The day of service was actually supposed to be two days of service, with even more HCC students participating. Tuesday's volunteer projects, cancelled because of the snowstorm, will be rescheduled, Le Clair said.
PHOTOS by CHRIS YURKO: (Top) Aiman Kamarudin, of Westfield, a member of the International Students Club and CommITTED Club, organizes books im the Kelly Elementary School library. (Thumbnail) HCC president Christina Royal, back center, and HCC students spent time volunteering at Holyoke's Kelly Elementary School Monday during Spring Break.