The pandemic cannot stop student volunteers


A. Panier

By Abby Panier

Click. The white screen blinds the Silver Cord sponsor for a moment as she waits for to load. The rich royal purple floods the web page. Clicking on the first student’s profile, she smiles as she scrolls through their entries and photos. She checks the entry information, double-checks the group question, then approves the hours. 

Volunteer hours and opportunities have become increasingly more difficult to come by, putting a strain on students and sponsor Lindsay Sara alike. A special education teacher and Silver Cord sponsor for 5 years, Sara has put her heart and soul into the program, believing that it does not just help the community, but also improves students’ character.

“It’s a great activity for students to participate in because we’re giving back to the community, taking responsibility, and teaching [students] time management and following through on their commitments,” Sara said.

Community service has gone almost completely online, thanks to COVID-19, but many student volunteers are determined to fill their quota and make a difference. Despite the hardships, they have snatched any safe in-person opportunities that come their way. Wearing a mask is a small price to pay in order to help others.

“If there’s one thing I love, it’s that it’s always so much fun,” junior Lauren Courtney said. “No matter how back-breaking or hard it may be, you’re always having a blast.”

With in-person hours being scarce, Silver Cord members rely heavily on, a website that allows volunteers to log their hours, search for opportunities nationwide, and even create an online volunteering portfolio to show colleges.

“[Innerview] has been really great about adding remote opportunities, even nationally,” Sara said. “There are all different kinds of activities you can do remotely from home and that actually makes it really convenient.”

Deadlines are approaching fast for seniors if they want to acquire a silver cord at graduation. For those who go the extra mile and obtain over 200 hours, they will receive a twisted red and silver cord along with their name on a plaque.

Senior Michael King is one of the few who has reached this milestone and left it far behind him. Managing over 1,000 hours of community service before graduating, King prefers working for a cause over a job.

“I enjoy it,” King said. “Just seeing the smile on people’s faces, enjoying the events that I’m helping out at, even the connections I’ve made and talking to people I would have never talked to.”

The Silver Cord program offers more than character-building opportunities and humbling experiences. Colleges are starting to look beyond academic success more and more, focusing on students that have a foot in several doors and participate in school.

“It looks good [for colleges] because you’re helping out your community, you’re thinking about people other than just yourself, and it shows you’re more well-rounded,” Sara said.

College resumes aside, volunteering to help those less fortunate reminds students of their humanity and simplifies life. It fulfills the desire to aid others and to be a prominent role inside or outside of school.

“I just wanted the chance to be more active in the community,” Courtney said. “I wanted the chance to contribute and play my part.”

“I might not have had much of an impact on those that really need help, but I was able to take the job off of the hands of someone else,” King said.