by Elisabeth Casolo
The Vision of the Graduate states that students should “contribute to [the] community through dialogue, service, and/or leadership.” The Roots & Shoots Club一managed by Ms. Méndez一helps students channel and carry out these service goals. The gratification of aiding the community and receiving service hours drives participation as many want to actively help others around them.
This year’s Thanksgiving Food Drive and Penny Wars took an unexpected turn: “The Thursday [with snow] really put a kink in our plans… That’s usually when we [would have] had a club meeting after school,” Ms. Méndez explained. However, that day, teachers across departments contributed by sorting donations.
In order to fully benefit the organizations receiving these donations, a set number of items had to be gathered. Gabby Mendoza, a Sophomore on the Roots & Shoots Club Leadership Team, said she felt “a little nervous because we [the school] weren’t meeting our quotas per item.”
It wasn’t until the final day of the drive when that nervousness turned to pride. According to Mendoza, “On the last day, the community really pulled through, though, and, even though some of the quotas were still not met, we had lots of extra food.”
Ms. Méndez admired the encouragement from the school’s staff and administrators. The Assistant Deans were adamant about sending reminders to the student body. She believed that “the energy from the Assistant Deans was instrumental… for Penny Wars in particular… it’s pretty amazing how everyone comes together at the end.”
The school neared about three thousand food donations, with Cantor House accumulating the most products in the food drive. In terms of the Penny Wars, despite Bella raising the most money in their bucket, Folsom ultimately won. Roots & Shoots members stayed active throughout these competitions by checking expiration dates, counting items, and transporting them to the loading dock.
The money from the collections went to purchasing turkeys and butter, primarily from Shop Rite. Volunteers from outside of GHS delivered the donated goods directly to families in need.
Although the donations were meant to supply Thanksgiving meals, food insecurity is a pressing issue globally, but also locally for some families in Greenwich; everywhere, many people undergo the struggle of not knowing where their next meal is coming from. Ms. Méndez explained how, given the state of America’s immigration crisis, undocumented families in town may not feel comfortable sharing their information with social services. Other families, despite qualifying for food provisions, could feel that they are taking away from another family that they deem more deserving. The drive is not substantial enough to eliminate this problem in our community, but it is a step in the right direction as every effort helps.
The drive and fundraiser are certainly not the last initiative for Roots & Shoots this year. Upcoming events include the Holiday Spirit Week (perhaps with a holiday hat competition) and collaborations with other organizations, such as Sandy Hook Promise and Adopt-A-Dog. If you would like to get involved with Roots & Shoots, meetings are held every Thursday in room 529. Feel free to contact Ms. Méndez at email@example.com.