“Service needs to be a quiet thing rather than something we deserve a reward for,” says Connor Rosenecker, a junior at St. Joseph’s Collegiate Institute.
Schools are small communities; they hold events such as concerts and huge rival football games that bring students, parents and faculty together. St. Joe’s connects through its annual Food Basket drive.
“It’s great to have so many kids volunteering and donating,” says Robert Lepertine, a senior and president of Food Basket. The Food Basket drive is entirely student-run. From planning to collecting to sending the food, the entire St. Joe’s community works as one to give to the needs of others.
“I’ve learned that so many people can help for one cause,” says Bradley Krepper, a junior at St. Joe’s. “People are so generous at St. Joe’s and willing to bring in items.” The school’s community brings in nonperishable food items and strives every year to reach the record of 57,000 items.
Bets are made between homerooms and teachers and students. This year, that isn’t being emphasized as much, but it’s to make the school understand the importance of the event. “I’ve learned how much we could help people that are unfortunate,” says Bradley.
“I’ve seen how much it can bring people together,” says freshman Ben Wojick. “Everyone is in a good mood when helping out.”
For the volunteers like Ben, Bradley, Connor and Robert, the meaning of service is more clear since they get to be involved in the event. St. Joe’s Food Basket is run by students, but moderated by faculty within the school. The moderators don’t have to do too much; just make sure everything is going smoothly.
“I see joy in the students helping each other,” says Anthony Shilen, an adult moderator of Food Basket. “The reality is real that people need and [others] should give.”
The event is just as meaningful for an adult than it is for the students. “You learn a lot about our kids, the kindness and generosity they have in their hearts,” Shilen added.
It takes a lot for students to get to school an hour early and volunteer, but over the years they have found that Food Basket is very enriching.
“I started doing [Food Basket as a freshman] because it was interesting, but now I do it because I love doing it,” says Robert.
Connor sees this as more than a warm inner feeling. He says, “Service is more important than personal gain.”
The food from St. Joe’s Food Basket goes to Warming House in Olean.
“The Warming House has worked primarily as an outreach/service ministry of St. Bonaventure University since the beginning, serving as a ‘classroom’ outside the classroom for students, a place of learning and reflection about the politics and the faces of hunger, human relationships, our food/agricultural system, health, and our own inner spirits/journeys,” according to the St. Bonaventure University website (www.sbu.edu/campus-life.aspx?id=5430).
Evan Hayes is a senior at St. Joseph’s Collegiate Institute.
“Everyone is in a good mood when helping out.”
– Ben Wojick, freshman, St. Joseph’s Collegiate Institute