How GC Students Are Serving the Community During The Pandemic

This+photo+was+taken+before+any+COVID-19+restrictions+were+put+in+place

Photo Credits: @OLGCHS

This photo was taken before any COVID-19 restrictions were put in place

Mary Ellen McDermott '23, Staff Writer

This year has presented new challenges that the Good Counsel community has never had to deal with before. GC students have had to complete school online and stay at home for months. We have also had to come up with ways to serve the community during the COVID-19 pandemic that are safe but still allow us to make a difference. 

Mrs. Blanco, GC’s service coordinator, emphasized the importance of serving the community and believes that “now more than ever perhaps volunteers are needed for all kinds of service!” Many people have lost their jobs and need help. Our community is calling us to help out. Mrs. Blanco advises students to remember that “doing the work of God is always a risk, and during this time of the pandemic, it’s easy to think only of oneself…but we all have something to give because we’ve all been given so much!” There are many great opportunities to serve the community while staying safe. 

“The world needs willing and able-bodied people now more than ever to SERVE. EXCEL. LOVE!””

— Mrs. Blanco, GC Service Coordinator

 

This summer, I volunteered at Interfaith Works Clothing Center (IWCC). Based in Rockville, Maryland, IWCC is an organization that provides clothes and household items to people in need. IWCC is continuing its mission of helping others during the pandemic. Interfaith Works requires masks and limiting the number of volunteers and people in the store to prevent the spread of COVID-19. They are still accepting donations, which are needed and will be distributed to the community. I really enjoyed my experience volunteering there this summer. During my 4-hour shifts, I sorted clothes and put them in the storefront. The first time I volunteered, the work was challenging, and I wasn’t used to wearing a mask, but making a difference in my community was rewarding and worth a little discomfort. Every second spent volunteering at IWCC was worth it, and I encourage you to consider volunteering there as well. 

Another organization that is working to serve others during the pandemic is Comfort Cases. This organization, also located in Rockville, Maryland, provides necessities for foster care children, so they feel loved and appreciated. Because of COVID-19, they are currently restricting the number of volunteers in the building and are requiring masks and gloves to be worn by all volunteers. However, volunteers still help assemble “comfort cases,” including a pajama set, a stuffed animal, books, a blanket, and toiletries. The bags are distributed to children in the foster care system throughout the U.S., including Puerto Rico. Volunteering with Comfort Cases is another excellent opportunity to give back to the community. 

Shepherd’s Table is an organization that is also helping those in need. Based in Silver Spring, Maryland, its mission is to help the homeless by giving them meals, clothes, and other services. Due to COVID-19, Shepherd’s Table is following the CDC guidelines to keep volunteers safe. Volunteers at Shepherd’s Table help prep, serve and clean up meals. Serving at Shepherd’s Table is a safe and rewarding way to help the homeless and those in need. 

An excellent way for GC students to serve during the pandemic is to join one of our service clubs, such as Project Change. This year, Project Change has to make some adjustments to how it will approach serving the community. “A lot of it’s going to be individual,” says student co-moderator Nicole Beckham, whereas previous service projects involved working in groups. When working individually, co-moderator Lauren Walston added, “it’s not guaranteed that everybody will have the same materials.” Project Change will also have to adjust their annual activities. Nicole and Lauren are unsure whether the yearly gingerbread house decorating contest will happen because it is uncertain whether GC students will be in school. However, they have come up with new ways to serve the community. One idea is to ask members to take videos of themselves reading children’s books. The videos will be sent to local elementary schools so that the children will have something to do when their parents are working. Project Change has also discussed sending letters to residents in nursing homes. Joining  Project Change is an excellent way for GC students to continue to serve the community during the pandemic. 

This year, students also have the opportunity to complete some of their service hours “indirectly.” Mrs. Blanco distinguishes “direct” and “indirect” service by whether or not the activity “has to do with interaction with those who benefit from the service completed.” If the action does not involve interaction with those benefiting from the service, it is probably “indirect.” Some examples of “indirect” services include organizing food drives for homeless shelters, making masks for essential workers, and preparing baskets for seniors in a nursing home. Recently, GC students were invited to participate in a donation drive with Comfort Cases, which also counts as an “indirect” service. Serving the community, whether done “directly” or “indirectly,” will let students experience the joy of helping others. 

Despite the new challenges that we have to face this year, there are still ways to help out those in need. Many organizations are offering safe ways to serve. Service clubs at GC are taking action. Students can also serve the community while staying at home. In the words of Mrs. Blanco: “The world needs willing and able-bodied people now more than ever to SERVE. Excel. LOVE!” 

Below are some thoughts and comments shared by members of the GC community: