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Cultivating volunteerism

Peer helpers program prepares students to work with young and old
Lead Summary
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Mavis Fodness

Laughter and learning were among the activities Saturday morning during the third-annual Peer Helper Fun Day.
Scooter races, face painting and Zoomobile presentations entertained the 85 students in kindergarten through fourth grade as the 24 high school peer helpers organized and operated the event.
The learning, according to peer helper adviser Elaine Harms, was directed toward the high school students.
“By volunteering now, I hope they feel comfortable volunteering the rest of their lives,” she said.
The group raised about $800 to be used for other peer helping events such as bingo at the local nursing homes and the peer-helping banquet conducted in the spring.
Harms said she focuses on intergenerational activities for the 40 students in her class. The selected activities allow students to step outside their normal peer group activities and hopefully see the impact their donation of time has on those they are helping.
“The peer helpers must volunteer in the school and community anywhere from 40 to 60 hours per quarter,” Harms said.
Some students, however, find giving their time has already made a positive impact on themselves.
LHS junior Sydney Maciej enjoys playing bingo at the nursing homes with the older generation.
“They are so nice and I like the stories they tell me,” she said.
For LHS senior Freddi Stroeh, volunteering allows her a chance to interact more with the younger generation.
“It’s nice to be with kids,” she said. “I don’t get to be with kids very often.”

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