Helping beyond the classroom

Roncalli students find new ways to serve their community during the COVID-19 pandemic

UNIQUE OPPORTUNITIES: Roncalli student Carter Chapman creating a birdhouse for service hours. The bird houses are then going to be painted and placed in a park.

UNIQUE OPPORTUNITIES: Roncalli student Carter Chapman creating a birdhouse for service hours. The bird houses are then going to be painted and placed in a park.

Volunteering has been a significant part of the Roncalli community ever since the school was created during the merger of Sacred Heart and Chartrand. Whether it is lending a hand during mass on the weekend or sorting through food at Saint Vincent Depaul, students are always finding a way to serve those around them. Ever since the Coronavirus pandemic though, students are finding it has been finding new and creative ways to complete service hours.

Starting last year, every student had to complete 18 hours of service during the semester, instead of each specific grade having a different number of hours to do. These hours could be counted through a parish, organization, or the school itself. Included in these 18 hours had to be at least 4 hours of HOPE, which was any work with the homeless, oppressed, poor, or elderly. 

Due to the precautions being taken to fight the CoronaVirus, most volunteer organizations are no longer asking for outside help. This has put a large strain on those in need, so Roncalli is doing everything they can to make a difference. 

Since work is so limited, Roncalli has extended the ways students can complete their service hours. Now activity helping another person can count toward students 18 required hours. This can include things like doing yard work for neighbors, babysitting siblings, or even helping grandparents shop at the grocery store. 

“I hope that they can now recognize the needs in their own neighborhoods,” Service Director Gerard Striby said regarding students now being able to help out their friends and family. “Now more than ever people need to be united, so I hope they see how much of a difference they can make towards the people around them.” 

 The impact of opening a variety of service hours has been substantial according to Mr. Striby. 

“A grandmother of a Roncalli student came up to me and explained how much time and effort her grandson was putting into their relationship. She explained that he is always wanting to help her with miscellaneous chores, which truly made her feel so blessed that she had him in her life. While it just may be as simple as completing service hours to him, she told me it meant the absolute world to her,” Striby said. 

Experiences like this one reflect the Roncalli mission statement of responding to the call of discipleship and living to the fullest potential, which is why students have been so eager to complete their service hours. This school year alone, students have completed over 17,100 hours of service. 

“I am always trying my best to serve others no matter what it is,” Co-President of Service Kamy Swingendorf said. 

For students struggling to complete service hours, Mr. Striby recommends doing it earlier than needed, so enjoyment can be found in them without the stress of a deadline. “Do not wait until the last possible weekend to do them, because it just becomes a burden at that point” he says.

While school is online for the remainder of the first semester, the service hour requirement will remain the same.