Martin Luther King Jr. Day provides PV students with a plethora of volunteering opportunities. The event has grown exponentially over the last six years, with hundreds of students participating, whether they are at the school or at a local facility.
Since this is a district-wide event, high schoolers are not the only ones who participate; members of the school district come out to take part in this productive event. Oliver Ley, a seventh grader, said the highlight of the opportunity is the “great feeling to be able to help those less fortunate and give back to those in need. It was a great way to spend some time on a day off and I really felt good for honoring such a good cause.” The Ley family volunteered at In Ian’s Boots, a charity organized by Ron Miller.
Ron Miller’s son tragically passed away after a sledding accident. Ian had tucked a bible verse in his boot, which was the inspiration for this charity. They collect gently-worn shoes to give to those in need, not only locally but around the world. They receive a massive amount of shoes, so they are always happy to get volunteers.
While many stations collect gently-used items or canned goods to donate, Plarn, a group using plastic waste as a yarn substitute, rids the non degradable plastic waste by weaving sleeping mats for the homeless. Marina Quairoli, a volunteer, said that this work was rewarding because “something invaluable to most people can greatly help someone in need”.
Teri Black is the organizer of this initiative at the high school, and was made aware of the non-profit four years ago. Her son originally found it, and they both got into it as a way of spending more time together. It makes her happy to not only spend time with her son but help the homeless, as she said “…that’s why I stay involved. It matters.”
Students could also volunteer at stations outside the school. The Daily Bread Community Food Pantry is an amazing service for the famished and impoverished members of the community. The organizer stressed that people need not be ashamed by coming, and made sure the volunteers understood that too. Ryan Curry, a junior from PV, said that “being able to bring these people the smallest amount of joy really made me happy”.
The emphasis on bettering people’s situations was a common theme at many organizations. Endeavors like the Laurel House station made care packages for women and children in violent situations. Children colored a positive message in an effort to give struggling people some hope.
Volunteer work not only helps the less fortunate, but brings people together and makes them feel accomplished. Samantha Mohr also volunteered at Plarn and said the group “enjoyed helping the children cut plastic bags, and the outstanding goal of creating mats for homeless people made me personally feel rewarded and touched”.
Giving your time to help those who are less fortunate is a humbling experience that everyone should have at least once in their life. Perkiomen Valley plans to continue this event for years to come, anticipating to include more beneficial organizations. Hopefully, the number of volunteers continue to grow as well.