This year, student leaders at Deer Valley High School in the Bay Area joined the Jefferson Awards Foundation’s Students in Action program. This is the story of their year in service.

This school-year, we have put together numerous projects to benefit our community, nation, and world by focusing on the hungry, needy, and homeless. We put together backpacks for the GRIP program in Richmond and collected canned food for the Contra Costa food bank, medical supplies for a clinic in Kenya, animal donations for the Contra Costa Humane Society, and much needed relief supplies for the victims of Hurricane Harvey and the Northern California wildfires. We also helped with cleanups on campus and in our community and assisted with suicide prevention walks and tutoring programs. As a club this year, we donated over a thousand items and participated in over 200 hours of community service.

Despite our success, we’ve had to face many obstacles. It took months to recruit enough members to start a team. We’ve also had to raise funds for each of our service projects. Prior to joining Students In Action, our school was pretty disconnected from community service, which is the biggest barrier to our success. We’ve even had students ask us, “why would you voluntarily pick up trash?” and “are you doing this as a punishment?”. Currently, less than 1% of our school has become involved in service opportunities. Our plan is to change that. And we’ve already gotten started.

Because of Students in Action, a few of our members were able to make a presentation at Carondelet High School about the impact we have made this year. In addition, our service work has been supported by our administration and we have been extremely encouraged by those around us. We are proud of all that we have accomplished so far, and we will spend the rest of the year recruiting more members. We hope to create a community of service at Deer Valley High School, and we are determined to do it.