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Juniors Give Back During Third Annual Community Volunteer Day

 students sort books at Community Center of Northern Westchester

Earlier this week, the entire junior class — almost 300 students — gathered at Fox Lane Stadium to kick off the third annual Community Volunteer Day in partnership with the Suzanne Grant Foundation. Before students headed out to 23 community organizations, they met as a group to learn about the inspiration behind the day.

“Who am I and why am I standing here in front of you?” asked Dave Grant of the Suzanne Grant Foundation during the opening ceremony. “I’m here in honor of my late wife Suzanne. Suzanne was a lot of things. In addition to being a Fox Lane parent, she was a member of many different committees and a member of our school board, but mostly she was a helper. She was someone who did good things for our schools, our towns and who just gave back. That’s what inspired today.”

Students were given the opportunity to choose an organization that resonated with them. They were then bused to the location — wearing matching volunteer day t-shirts designed by junior Aidan Weise — and spent the majority of their day volunteering there. Organizations varied from schools around the district to Muscoot Farm, Neighbors Link, Bedford Hills Library, Westmoreland Sanctuary, the SPCA of Westchester and more.

“Today, you’ll get a chance to help others,” Grant said before students headed to their buses. “A chance to be a part of a team. A chance to be a part of something that’s bigger than yourselves. I hope you get a lot out of it.”

students shovel hay at Muscoot FarmStudents had different reasons for their  initial excitement for the day. Some were interested in visiting their old schools and running into former teachers, while others were excited about the opportunity to become CPR-certified or to try something new.

“I’m really looking forward to hanging out with the kids,” said Abigail Zelenz as she waited for families to arrive at Neighbors Link. “I volunteer for their Learning Links Program and hope I’ll see some of the kids here today.”

Her peer, Jillian Fass, also had a connection with the organization as well as the inspiration for the day. “I knew Suzanne very well,” Jillian said. “And my family has worked with Neighbor’s Link. I wanted to continue that.”

Hannah Sargisson, who was also at Neighbors Link, didn’t have a connection with the organization, but she knew it had a connection with Mount Kisco Elementary School.

“The description said organizing activities with kids,” Hannah said. “I wanted to work with them."

While Abigail, Jillian and Hannah worked with kids, their classmates pulled weeds, learned how to use a fire hose, organized books, worked in classrooms, planted and more. As a group, Fox Lane juniors collectively put in about 1,000 service hours throughout the day.

“It’s so great to be able to see students in this totally different way,” said school counselor Rori Coschigano, who was one of many staff volunteers.

Once back on campus, students were treated to lunch and were able to decompress and share their experiences with each other.

“I got to hold baby chicks at Muscoot, and now I’m going to volunteer there!” Riley Linehan said excitedly.

Before heading home, juniors met as a group for the closing ceremony.

“I want to say thank you for the energy that you brought today,” said Fox Lane High School principal, Dr. Jennifer Amos. “It is really amazing to look up here and see that each one of you had the opportunity to contribute to something meaningful today. You represented us well.”

Grant encouraged students to continue volunteering and to reach out to the organizations they worked with throughout the day.

“Sometimes we do things just to be helpful, just because it's the right thing to do,” he said. “It's not about us. It’s about something bigger than that. Thank you for being a part of it.”

students work with kids at Neighbors Link