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In Defense of Required Community Service
The first time I volunteered was in my middle school where I had to collect trash and
recycling to meet my NJHS service hour requirement. I encountered a mission beyond myself
and realized that I was capable of making a tangible contribution to my community, even if it
was merely cleaning up. Furthermore, I not only had the power to impact my surroundings, but it was also enjoyable collaborating with my peers toward a common goal.
The following summer, I became a camp counselor in Wilmington, Delaware, a city plagued with high poverty and gun violence rates. To my surprise while bonding with the campers, I discovered that my interests and assets aligned with the skills needed to fulfill my responsibilities. For instance, my appreciation for athletics came in handy when I played tag with the kids for two hours every day. We always looked forward to it, and I would use the game as an incentive for them to be on their best behavior. I realized that volunteering can be fun and rewarding. All strengths can be used to serve others, and it is important to give back where we can.
As a result, in high school I was able to co-found a humanitarian club. In it, I educate students on global and community issues and initiate campaigns and projects by utilizing Sustainable Development Goals. We use the World Food Program’s Freerice application to donate rice to families in international emergencies and have been collecting plastic bottle caps for Banco de Tapitas to raise funds for chemotherapy sessions, medication, and wigs for cancer patients. Although it may prove to be a bit of a challenge to single-club-edly put an end to the Yemen or Rohingya Crises, its purpose is to elicit compassion and show members that everyone can and should make a change in the world no matter how big or small.
Obligatory volunteering may be met with apathetic hearts. However, with time it may
open the door for sincere volunteerism. When students are given the choice to stay after school
and collect trash or to go home and play with friends, it would be no surprise if more choose the
latter. Because I had a requirement, it helped me to gain maturity and embrace good citizenship.
Through exposure to service, I have learned that everyone has something to give.
Although the extrinsic motivation of service hours may seem to defeat the spirit of the
voluntary act, middle and high schools should require community service because it plants the
seed for the genuine desire to serve. At the core, required service hours have fostered my
capacity for compassion and dedication that I would have otherwise struggled to discover on my