April 10-16 is known around the country as National Volunteer Week. In light of the national highlight that promotes random acts of kindness and helping others, a local high school in Boca Raton has introduced a new program teaching the importance of community service to its students.
Yeshiva High School in western Boca Raton has allowed 77 12th grade students to spend the end of their day volunteering in several different sites around the area. The students have been involved in the program called S.A.V.E or Senior Active Volunteer Experience for the past 7 weeks.
After school, the seniors branch out into the community and volunteer for many local organizations. In an interview, Head of School Rabbi Jonathan Kroll stated “We want to communicate the message that a Jewish education should inspire students to recognize a sense of communal responsibility. I’m so proud that our students have embraced that message and given back to the community with such enthusiasm. I can’t describe how gratifying it is to get such wonderful notes of appreciation from the coordinators of the volunteer sites.”
The program is coordinated by Sharona Kay and Lysee Stein who believe that in volunteering, the students are able to “demonstrate in a tangible way that their education extends beyond the classroom walls.”
The students volunteer in a number of different programs. Some help autistic children at local Boca Raton High School, Friendship Circle, a program that focuses on building relationships in the community between special needs children and local teenagers; some choose to spend their time in elementary schools in the area like Katz Hillel Day School where they spend time tutoring and reading to children, while others choose to spend their time at Chai Lifeline, which is an organization that helps to support families of children with terminal illness’.
Not only are the families of the children these High School seniors are helping in support of the S.A.V.E. program, but even the seniors themselves have seen the importance of volunteer work in the community. “At Boca High, we volunteer with kids with special needs and we run all different kinds of activities with them. This experience has just been amazing because you learn so much about these teens and you see how amazing they are. I’ve made connections with the teens that are unbreakable. This program really helps bring out a different side of yourself that you might have not known you had before.” stated program member Orel Yoshia.
Yeshiva High School mandates that all students be involved in some form of community service. Lysee Stein reported “The feedback we have received convinces us that this program is worthwhile, and that our students are both offering much-needed help and comfort while also gaining so much themselves.”