Ask an expert - Club Central

Series: Club Central | Story 2

Dozens of Devils will dedicate a part of this Saturday to the community's greater good.

The Hinsdale Central students will take part in school's annual Day of Service, a volunteerism drive organized by the Red Devil Service Club. The group promotes initiative, leadership and good citizenship practices through large- and small-scale outreach projects during the year.

Senior Leah Bradley, service club president, said the event encourages teens to step beyond the relative affluence of their neighborhoods.

"It's important to take ourselves outside of our little bubble so that we can go where people's needs are," Bradley said. "It reminds us that we are really lucky to be where we are and also allows us to learn more about our surrounding communities."

Participants this year will pack food at Feed My Starving Children, clean up local parks and forest preserves, and support services for needy residents at People's Resource Center, among other assignments.

Senior Abhi Doshi joined RDSC freshman year because he wanted a philanthropic dimension to his high school experience. At their weekly meetings he learned that service could come in simple form, such as writing letters to U.S. soldiers overseas or nursing home residents.

"I found that to be really interesting, and it also taught me how fun service can be," said Doshi, who serves as RDSC secretary. "It showed me that service is a great way to spend time with friends in a way that does good."

Leading others to fulfilling ways to give back is rewarding, Doshi added.

"It can be hard to go out and do any kind of service. RDSC finds creative ways to spend time volunteering," he said.

Bradley, a club member since her sophomore year, said COVID-19 restricted outreach activities. So they sought out at-home ideas, like making Valentines for hospitalized children and gathering supplies for frontline health care workers.

"We had to be really creative with ways we could do service during COVID," she said. "I think it was an important connection for me and a lot of people."

To recruit for Day of Service, RDSC put up posters around campus and had schoolwide announcements read. But, of course, an personal invitation is the most effective method.

"It's an easy way to get service hours and spend your Saturday morning in a productive way," said Doshi in describing his pitch to peers. "You create memories with your friends and have a great time doing it."

Bradley praised the club's faculty sponsors, Lisa Sopiarz and Sara Pendergrass, for introducing new service opportunities. And robust underclassmen involvement bodes well for the club's enduring influence.

"They're able to help carry the torch and continue to expand our reach and build on the foundation that we've established," she said.

Bradley reported that, as of Monday, 150 students were signed up for Day of Service. She hopes many get a lasting vision for volunteering.

"The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others," she said, quoting Mahatma Gandhi. "It can add meaning of value throughout every stage in your life."

- by Ken Knutson

Author Bio

Ken Knutson is associate editor of The Hinsdalean