With Buffalo recognized as the City of Good Neighbors, there are numerous opportunities for Western New York students to demonstrate our community's dedication to volunteerism. In order to highlight the organizations that students can support, we reflected on some of the activities that our schools have participated in within the last year.
Who hasn't wanted to start a food fight at school, like the ones in movies and TV shows? When the South Buffalo Food Pantry lost its refrigerator, and all the food inside it, Mount Mercy Academy designed a "food fight" to replenish the lost items. The four classes were pitted against each other and could bring in nonperishable food items to earn points for their classes. Classes could deduct points from rivals by placing toiletries in the bin, and those items would be subtracted from the class total. Mount Mercy collected more than 300 items.
"Not only did we help the community around us, but we also had fun doing it, which is the most important thing when it comes to giving back," said Marissa Stack, a sophomore at Mount Mercy. "It's nice to be able to work together and give back as a school community."
Next time you make an appointment for a haircut, consider donating your hair to Locks of Love. As a nonprofit organization, Locks of Love provides sick and disadvantaged children under the age of 21 in Canada and the United States with wigs to help them regain confidence and self-esteem. To be eligible to make a donation, the donor must give at least 10 inches of hair, which cannot be bleached, and fill out a Hair Donation Form (available at locksoflove.org). If your hair is not long enough, you can still assist Locks of Love by making a monetary donation.
In April, Immaculata Academy held its first Locks of Love event sponsored by the school's Character Club. After growing their hair out for eight months, five girls had their hair cut to support Locks of Love. In addition to the hair donated, Immaculata raised more than $900.
Anne Pivarunas, a sophomore who donated her hair, said, "I am really glad I donated my hair because I was able to help kids in need."
The Character Club is organizing a Locks of Love Take 2 event for October.
Another way students can use their hair to improve the lives of cancer patients is through Bald for Bucks. Getting a haircut typically means paying a hairdresser for the service. Bald for Bucks turns that around, and "pays" the person who is going bald. Friends and family can pledge money to have someone get his or her head shaved to help in the fight against cancer. Many high schools have gotten in on the act.
Local schools are working to make an impact in Western New York through sporting events that raise money for cancer research. In February, Immaculata held its third annual Coaches versus Cancer varsity basketball game. With the team trading in their jerseys for pink T-shirts that read "Fight Like a Girl," the rest of the school dressed down for a dollar to support the cause. Immaculata raised more than $1,100 to benefit the American Cancer Society.
Darlene Winans, Immaculata yearbook committee adviser, said the fundraiser was a success because "cancer is an illness that touches everyone's lives because many people have friends and family members suffering from the disease, so everyone is excited to participate and help in any way that they can."
While "The King's Speech" was competing for various Academy Awards, "The Queen's Speech" received awards at the third annual Red Carpet Event at Mount Mercy. The spoof of the Academy Awards is a great way for students to express their creativity and help the community. Students at Mount Mercy were encouraged to create and submit videos, such as a spoof of "The King's Speech."
Family and friends filled the auditorium to watch the videos and support a Mercy cause. This year's focus was on human trafficking, and the red-carpet event was a major fundraiser for the cause. People in attendance received a night of live music, refreshments and student-made videos.
These are only a few of the ways that students can get involved in the community. Every day high school students are embracing the spirit of good neighbors and are committed to making Western New York a better place.
Katlyn Grasso is a senior at Immaculata Academy. Lee Haggerty is a sophomore at Mount Mercy Academy.