The Raptors Give Back

Annabel Andre, Staff Writer

Volunteering is something many high school students do to help better their communities, participate in school events or get volunteer hours. According to students, giving back to the community through volunteer work, like mentoring children, can be rewarding in more ways than one.

At LASA, students can find many opportunities to volunteer, such as joining one of the many charitable clubs at school like Helping Hands for Children, Bowls of Hope or Help the Homeless Club. Others tend to utilize different opportunities for volunteering through working with organizations like Generation SERVE, Austin Humane Society or Habitat for Humanity. According to students and teachers, volunteering provides students with a new outlook on the world and teaches them to be selfless.

Counselor Ashley Rios believes volunteering is very important and has many benefits. According to her, volunteering not only gives back to the communities that students are involved in, but also teaches students humanitarian skills that can’t necessarily be taught in school. 

“Giving back to the community is just a great way to stay connected and also realize how thankful we can be by giving back,” Rios said. “There’s the internal part of feeling proud of yourself, and you could really develop some skills that you can’t develop in a classroom through community service.”

Volunteering work can provide a multitude of beneficial support systems and necessary products for a neighborhood in need, according to Rios. She said even the smallest amount of work can make a huge difference and encourage more people to work for their community. 

“I feel like it’s a domino effect — one person does something good, and they impact people, and then those people might feel empowered to then serve their communities as well,” Rios said. “So I think it’s just a good way to give back but also a good way to get other people thinking.”

Senior Georgia McLeod is one of the founders of the LASA club Helping Hands for Children in Need. The club’s mission is to support children in shelters and hospitals all across Austin by creating educational and crafty activities for them. According to her, it is not only important that volunteers be passionate about the cause they are working for; they should also be passionate about volunteering in general.

“I don’t know if volunteering should necessarily be required because I feel like it should probably come out of the goodness of your heart and not necessarily doing it simply for the credit,” McLeod said. “That’s probably not going to be as beneficial.”

Sophomore Sahana Sudarasan volunteers for Generation SERVE, a nonprofit organization that tries to promote volunteerism in kids. Similar to McLeod, Sudarasan believes that volunteer work should not be done with the motivation to get hours to graduate or look good to colleges but rather out of kindness and compassion.

“I think volunteering is something that colleges look for because it’s beneficial for colleges, but it’s also not something that you should be doing for the sole purpose of looking good to colleges,” Sudarasan said. “I think that you benefit from volunteering only if you’re doing it so that you can help other people. They’re not looking for people who just do volunteering for volunteering’s sake — they’re looking for people who actually care about it.”

Sudarasan has been volunteering since she was four years old thanks to the encouragement of her parents. She said she continues to volunteer today because it makes her feel good to have had a direct impact on the community around her. 

“I keep volunteering because it really just makes me feel good, and it makes me feel accomplished, that I am having a direct impact on somebody else’s life and I’m improving, and I’m impacting their life in a positive way,” Sudarasan said. “I think that that’s a really satisfying feeling to know that you are making somebody else’s day better.”

Sudarasan encourages all students to volunteer, and her advice when starting is to try and get used to volunteering and the people around you. Then, according to Sudarasan, you can begin to see the benefits for yourself and the communities around you. 

“Volunteering, it may seem like a waste of time, or it may seem tedious, but once you actually start doing it, you really feel a positive impact on yourself,” Sudarasan said. “And it’s really worth it. Just give it a try.”