WJ gives back to community: day of service engages students in activities


Photos courtesy of Julia Eisen

Students of all grades take time during the stress buster day to participate in leadership led community service activities. Activities included packing “comfort cases” with coloring books and more, making friendship bracelets which were sent to a woman’s shelter and writing letters to active service members and firefighters thanking them for serving the community. From left to right, top; Jackie Orsak, Julianne Okim, Martine Cardichon and Darby Harris. Bottom: Darley Melgar.

WJ administered its first ever free SAT test during normal school hours on Tuesday, April 9 for juniors. The second half of the day following the test was designated for a variety of “stress buster” activities rather than continued classroom instruction. Students were given the option to choose which activity they preferred to participate in for the second half of the school day.

The activities included writing cards addressed to the military, local firefighters and WJ’s building service staff members, as well as making bracelets for a women’s shelter and comfort cases for the kids housed there.

Comfort Cases is a local non-profit organization in Rockville, MD that puts together bags of necessities such as deodorant, soap, toys, coloring books and toothpaste for children in the foster care system. Their mission is to help the 437,500 youth who are in the foster care system and have a very little sense of security.

“Comfort cases emailed us randomly and we already thought about the idea of a service day and since they reached out to us we knew we wanted to partner with them for this big event,” senior Carli Schell said.

The leadership class used the Stone and Weeks Holt Foundation grant to buy the materials needed to create the donation bags. The $500 grant is awarded each year to an event that promotes “doing good and having fun,” and the service day fit those criteria.

The students coordinated with the main office and talked to teachers who wanted to get involved and orchestrated with SSL and orchestrated with the students who signed up to participate,” SGA advisor Melanie Schwed said.

The activities were spread out between two classrooms, one focused on writing letters and making bracelets while the other classroom made the

comfort cases. Students signed up to participate through their English classes if they wished to take part in benefiting their community.

“Even though I was exhausted after the SAT it was rewarding to do good for my community. I wrote a letter to the military thanking them for their service and all the sacrifices they make,” junior Colleen Beshe said.

Overall, students liked that they could link school time and volunteer work together.

“I’ve always enjoyed service and having [the activities] school sponsored was convenient and it was very admirable to send letters to the military to thank them for all that they do for us,” senior Rose Dever said.

The comfort cases will be picked up on April 15 and the leadership class will mail out the letters and bracelets made in the next month.