During the COVID-19 pandemic, many students are wondering how to maintain safety guidelines and still complete their required 20 community service hours.
According to counselor April Anderson, students are being asked to give back to the community virtually.
“It’s a big clear directive from Mr. Shelby that we do not want students out there in the community risking exposure to COVID,” Anderson said.
The goal is to keep everyone safe and healthy, which is why virtual community service options were introduced. One available to students is donating funds to Second Harvest of Silicon Valley.
“Our needs for volunteers have doubled, and our needs for donation have doubled,” Volunteer Engagement Manager Krissy Hutflesz of Second Harvest said. “95 percent of your (donated) funds goes directly towards buying food for clients.”
Aside from outside organizations like Second Harvest, some SCHS clubs are providing hours for students. Senior Vivian Tran said she participated and earned hours with the Girls’ Empowerment Project, writing letters to breast cancer patients. She also noted how she saw other clubs advertising their own opportunities.
“I think I saw some community service options on social media, like making masks and writing letters to essential workers,” Tran said.
Freshman Nikhil Ramkrishnan said he made masks for people in shelters, created cards for local firefighters and contributed to a creek clean up in Los Gatos. Although the process was difficult, Ramkrishnan enjoyed the experience.
“When we were making the masks, they didn’t work, and it was just confusing,” Ramkrishnan said. “Nevertheless, it was still really fun, and it was still super exciting to do.”
SCHS is also offering students community service at home, such as completing hours by helping their family.
“We do recognize that there are some instances where families are having more difficulties and students are needing to do more around the home,” Anderson said. “In those situations, caring for siblings or other specific home tasks are accepted.”
Online service opportunities will continue to be available even with in-person learning, but sibling hours will only be available while SCHS is in virtual or hybrid learning. Anderson also mentioned that students are allowed to find resources on their own. Some students find this array of online services convenient.
For Ramkrishnan, completing community service while staying at home provides comfort, and online opportunities have made communication easier and more enjoyable.
“It’s easier to talk about stuff online,” Ramkrishnan said. “It’s definitely made it a lot more of a comfortable experience.”
While virtual community service options are available to all, some SCHS seniors feel an added layer of stress as they are required to complete 20 hours before graduation.
“I always thought I’d have so much time to get more hours that I didn’t really care, but now that I’m in my senior year and we’re in quarantine, I realize that I should have been more careful,” Tran said.
Although students face challenges with virtual community service, the Bruin community has shown their support this year through contributing their hard work in unique and creative ways.
“That’s sort of the main objective in community service hours is to give back in a more broad manner,” Anderson said.