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Fox Lane Students Gained Valuable Volunteer Experience Before School Closures

FLHS students pack produce at Mt Kisco Interfaith Food Pantry Wearing gloves and aprons, Fox Lane High School students sorted through huge deliveries of produce, creating care packages for the area’s food insecure at Mount Kisco Interfaith Food Pantry. The volunteer work, which was done before the school closure order, started as a quarterly requirement for an Economics in Government class and quickly became something more.

“We started the year with a unit on citizenship and civic responsibilities and we talked about different kinds of civic action,” said Fox Lane English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) teacher Ada Belanger. “One of the civic actions we studied was community service and how it is something we do for the good of the community but it also makes us feel good. It allows us to take an active part in creating the kind of community we want to live in." 

Belanger required students to do one hour of community service every marking period. Partnering with the pantry, she gave students the opportunity to volunteer with her there if they wished.

Interest in the volunteer work quickly picked up as students began talking to each other about their work there.

“Other students in the program started hearing that I was taking groups of kids to do community service,” Belanger said. “It started with one class but now some of the kids that I take with me are not in the class.”

Now, Belanger has students who are already close to meeting the  20 hours of community service requirement for graduation as freshmen.

“They talk it up to their friends because it makes them feel good inside,” she said. “As we leave, we can see people lining up to receive. They get to have indirect contact with the people who are going to receive these care packages that they’re putting together.”

Belanger had been taking ten to twelve students with her to the food pantry about two Tuesdays per month. The pantry receives a large produce delivery from Feeding Westchester and needs help packing it for families that come to pick up on Tuesday evenings. The group typically packs about 150 to 200 bags of produce each time.

“The kids are so efficient,” Belanger says, impressed with their effort. “We schedule it for a certain amount of time and we’ve never gone to the time because these kids are amazing. They are so fast and happy to do it.”

Belanger started the volunteer requirement because she wanted her students to know that everyone can contribute something to our community.

“You don’t have to be a fluent English speaker,” she said. “You don’t have to be native born to this country. You don’t have to have a lot of money to contribute to making our community better. We all play a role in that. These are real people with real needs and we’re helping them.”

Their volunteer work is currently on pause due to the Covid pandemic as the pantry tries to reduce the number of people working in their small space.

FLHS students working at food pantry