Centennial Students Involved in the Community

Centennial High School is full of diligent students who often partake in volunteer work to help out the community. Lots of this volunteer work has been shut down due to COVID-19, but many new volunteer opportunities have also opened up. It’s important to recognize those in the community who take their time to help others without any compensation beyond a feeling of joy. 

VolunTeens is a new program in Howard County dedicated to finding local students an outlet to volunteer. Senior Ana Cunningham is in charge of Centennial’s VolunTeens wing and has found her experience to be more impactful than she could’ve imagined. 

“Part of the beauty of VolunTeens is that it matches high school students with local nonprofits, so it simultaneously helps the students and the groups with whom they collaborate,” said Cunningham. “We do yard work, deliver meals to people, make food to donate to Grassroots, and even do online volunteer work since that’s safer right now.” 

 “It’s an amazing way to give back to the community,” Cunningham stated. “And, if nothing else, you get to hang out with friends in a safe environment since you can’t see them in school.”

Cunningham started working with the program after the outbreak of COVID-19 cancelled the volunteer work she was doing through her youth group. After starting to help neighbors with miscellaneous tasks, she realized that “there’s strength in numbers… so by working with VolunTeens [she has] a much bigger impact than [she] would by [herself].”

VolunTeens has amassed over 10,000 hours of volunteer work and raised over $17,000 with the help of students across the county. If such a program sounds interesting to you, make sure to check out their website at Volunteensco.com and explore ways that you can help out your community.

Meals on Wheels is another program that provides great opportunities to help out the community during these times. A nationwide program, Meals on Wheels focuses on delivering meals to elders who are unable to properly care for themselves. Through COVID, the program has shifted towards a wider demographic of elders, as it is encouraged for seniors to stay in their homes at all times. The organization eliminates the need to go to restaurants, grocery stores, and markets. 

Julian Whang, a Centennial junior, has been helping to pack meals for Meals on Wheels since June. If such an opportunity is of interest to you, you can visit their website at Mealsonwheelsamerica.org.

“I think that the volunteer work I did before Covid wasn’t as voluntary as it is right now. During these times, I actually want to go out and serve the community,” stated Whang. “After I finish a shift, I always feel a sense of pride and accomplishment, as I know that my services are helping out the community.”

According to projecthelping.org, the sensation known as “helpers high” is a feeling of happiness released in the brain after doing a good deed. Helpers high is a natural instinct rooted from human survival depending on helping others out.

Both Cunningham and Whang hope to continue to volunteer in the near future, as Cunningham stated that volunteer opportunity has been a crucial factor in her college decision process. Encouraging others to take a step towards helping their community, Whang exclaimed, “as surprising as it sounds, volunteering is actually quite fun!”


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