While many students spend their winter school break relaxing at home and playing with friends, a brave group of young leaders, from Saudi Arabia, decided to participate in an English Language and Leadership Immersion with Legacy International.  These young men, ages 13-16, have stepped outside their comfort zone, as they travel away from home (many for the first time) and dive deep into Legacy’s leadership curriculum.

After spending their Orientation Day, getting to know one another, and discussing what leadership means to them, it was time for the group to participate in a day of community service. Service is an important universal value, (that means all people, regardless of country or religion believe helping others is important), and a key tenant in Legacy’s leadership training.  (read more about young leaders completing community service: here)

The group traveled to downtown Orlando, Florida to complete a morning of community service at Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Virginia.  Second Harvest, is a large hub, which collects donated food for distribution to smaller food banks throughout the greater Orlando region.  Each day, 150 volunteers gather to sort through donations and prepare food for distribution across seven different counties.

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Two students, and a full-time Second Harvest volunteer, work together to move crates that will be used to ship food to smaller organizations throughout Central Florida

Legacy’s team of young Saudi leaders spent three hours, early in the morning, sorting equipment and produce.  The first part of the morning was spent sorting crates that are used to transport food.  Then the group packaged over 200lbs of cucumbers for distributions.  For many of these students, this was their first experience in community service.  Many have not had the opportunity for hands-on volunteering back home.

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Showing off a pile of cucumbers to be packed for distribution

“Where I come from, we serve charities only by giving money,” says one student.  “This is very easy.  But working at the food bank I gave something else. I gave my work and my time.  It was fun!”

Another student compared this project with what he would normally be doing during a school break.  “Spending time with my friends, that is very fun.  But working at the food bank is a type of fun, too.  It is charity fun, and I like charity fun!”

Sorting through cucumbers and bagging them for distribution may not be terribly complicated work, but it was hard work.  Students took the opportunity to learn valuable lessons about leadership and innovation.

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Students ask Alex, a full-time volunteer, why people enjoy volunteering at Second Harvest. He tells them that “people want to feel that they are part of something bigger than just them. They want to be part of the solution.”

“At the beginning, we worked very slowly,” said one student. “We worked alone, and didn’t know what to do.  But by the end we learned a better system.  We worked together by dividing up the tasks.  This way we could do our work more quickly.  We found a better way to do the job.  That is innovation!”

Students ended the day with a discussion about how to bring their new found interest in service back home with them. Many students said that it is difficult to find volunteer opportunities in their communities.  Other students pointed out that volunteering is becoming more popular, and if they learn where to look and who to ask, there are opportunities to serve their communities.

 

How is community service important to your community?  Is it easy or difficult to find volunteer opportunities in your school and community?  What advice do you have for students who are interested in volunteering, but may not know how to start?  Tell us below in the comment section