To Pierce Weiss, an eighth grader at The Rumson Country Day School, community service means more than logging hours on a required checklist. According to him, helping others makes the world a better place and benefits both the receiver and the giver.
“Each time I do something to help others, it makes me want to go back and do more,” said Pierce who recalls being inspired by early memories of participating in community service with his family. “A moment I’ll never forget is when my brother and I donated our bikes and the person getting my bike was there. I got to see him ride it in the parking lot that day. It was awesome!”
Since that moment, Pierce knew he wanted to find more ways to help others. “Some people are hungry and can’t feed their families, or they have been affected by something terrible like a flood or the pandemic. I feel fortunate to have what I have. If I can help someone else, I want to do that.”
Pierce is not alone. Service is infused in the RCDS culture. The School’s Service Learning Program is tied into the curriculum and serves as an integral part of the RCDS educational experience. It offers students opportunities to recognize the needs of others, help solve problems and share positive experiences with those in need.
“Of course it’s important to provide our community with things they need, but building empathy in our students is also important,” said Amy Clark, RCDS Service Learning Coordinator. “That’s our job – to grow good people. When you think about others instead of yourself you become a more fulfilled person. That is a soft skill that is essential to having success no matter what you grow up to be.”
RCDS parents Tara Fallon and Jen Dinger co-chair Parent Council’s Kindness Committee, a dedicated group of parent volunteers who work regularly with Mrs. Clark to make service opportunities community-wide. “So many people want to get involved, but they may not know where to start,” said Tara. “We work closely with Amy to ensure that everyone can participate and that they see the why behind it. Sometimes it moves you to tears. Seeing my kids feel that feeling too is special. I hope by teaching them at a young age how to be kind to others it will stick with them forever. I’m happy RCDS supports those values.”
The collaboration of the Kindness Committee and Service Learning Program creates an opportunity for everyone in the school community to engage in service from students and parents to faculty and staff. The roster of activities offered supports local programs including Clean Ocean Action, Second Life Bikes, Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and more. Pierce and his classmates often visit with students at The Harbor School, a school for children with special needs. This fall RCDS families collected 2,000 pounds of rice and beans, the top amount donated to The Red Bank CROP Walk for Hunger. The most recent community initiative is a long-standing tradition called The Giving Tree, a holiday gift-giving program established to give children in the Horizons Program a brighter holiday season. This year RCDS collected and delivered hundreds of gifts to benefit Horizons families.
RCDS will continue to provide opportunities throughout the 2021-2022 school year for its students, families and faculty to give back, connect with their community, and experience the long-lasting impact that service has on all of the people it touches.
- Community Service