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The Evanstonian

The news site of Evanston Township High School's student newspaper

The Evanstonian

The news site of Evanston Township High School's student newspaper

The Evanstonian


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ETHS volunteer fair: connecting students with community

Exploring opportunities for meaningful service beyond the classroom
Luna Dinsmore
Students had the opportunity to sign up for a variety of different volunteer clubs and organizations.

On Sept. 13, ETHS held its annual Volunteer Fair in the fieldhouse during both lunch blocks. With 50 organizations stationed at tables around the gym, students had many options to choose from when exploring the fair. The first 50 students were also provided an ice cream sandwich to eat as they visited.

“I think oftentimes, people think of service and they think that it has to be like manual labor or stuff that is not tied necessarily to interests or things that they’re passionate about,” said Community Service Coordinator Erin Claeys. “But my hope with the fair is to get as many students in front of people who share their interests, and also just to see examples of people who have careers and life paths in service.”

The impetus behind the volunteer fair is to give students the opportunity to engage with the community beyond the classroom.

“I think it’s great,” said Superintendent Dr. Marcus Campbell. “It’s always wonderful to have adult and student volunteers in the space together creating all of these wonderful opportunities for service.”

For those unsure about getting involved, Campbell encourages students to take advantage of the opportunities being offered.

“Just take a risk and talk to somebody, build a new relationship and get involved,” said Campbell.

This year, 40 organizations were from outside ETHS, and 10 of them were closely tied in with the school. Here’s a breakdown of some of those organizations, and what they do for the community.

Family Focus

Students approaching the table for Family Focus were greeted by JoAnn Avery, who has been working with the organization for 41 years. 

“It is a long-standing community center,” said Avery. “It’s an after-school program that also has a lot of different things in the building. It’s a hub for community programs.”

Currently, they’re looking for students to volunteer to help children with their homework. Family Focus also has a food pantry, a clothing tree and a partnership with the YMCA, among other things.

A Just Harvest

A Just Harvest’s mission is to ‘fight poverty and hunger in the Rogers Park and greater Chicago community by providing nutritious meals daily while cultivating community and economic development and organizing across racial, cultural and socioeconomic lines in order to create a more just society’.

While describing ways for students to get involved, Energy Outreach Coordinator and Organizer Myriam Perez said, “We have a community kitchen every day from 12 to 2 p.m., and we have a dine-in where people come in and they eat like they’re in a restaurant or they take it to go. So we’re constantly looking for volunteers to run that program and to also do our delivery program for our pantry.”

Chicago Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines

Beyond the Family Focus table, ETHS students may have recognized a familiar face. Following her departure from the school at the end of last year, Diana Balitaan, who used to be the Community Service Coordinator, started a new role at the Chicago Committee for Human Rights in the Philippines.

“[We] do much work to support activism and the Philippines and human rights,” said Balitaan. “The current state in the Philippines is very corrupt; there are lots of attacks on everyday people. The U.S. unfortunately funds a lot of that since they send billions of dollars in aid to the military.” 

The organization is working to pass the Filipino Human Rights Act and requests that students get involved in the effort. They also do a fundraiser or collection drive to get COVID-19 vaccines and vitamins into the hands of people in the Philippines.

“Access to those things is really, really difficult,” said Balitaan. “We should use our privilege and our ability to have access to those things and support it.”

Connections for the Homeless

Connections for the Homeless’ goal is to ‘serve and catalyze our community to end homelessness, one person at a time’.

“We ask students if they can make bagged lunches to be dropped off at the Margarita Inn, which is our location that we have in downtown Evanston,” said La Dina Moore, the Volunteer Coordinator for the organization. “We also are asking students to create events where they can collect various items of their choices for our participants at the shelter.”

Evanston School Children’s Clothing Association (ESCCA)

The Evanston School Children’s Clothing Association (ESCCA) operates under the motto ‘no Evanston child should miss a single day of school for need of warm, sturdy clothing’. 

Through its clothing center and distribution of clothes to local elementary schools, ESCCA works to achieve that goal.

“Volunteering at ESCCA is a really special way to help your community because when kids come in and they need warm winter clothes, you get to go through our shop that is full of new and gently used clothes and you get to help a child feel good about getting all the things they need for the winter,” said Co-President Allison Hackney.

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About the Contributors
Ella Bowker
Ella Bowker, Staff Writer
Luna Dinsmore
Luna Dinsmore, Staff Writer
Hi! I’m Luna Dinsmore (She/her). I am a Junior and this is my first year on The Evanstonian as a photographer. I joined as a photographer because I enjoy capturing moments and I want to share them with others while also contributing to the community. Beyond The Evanstonian, I am a bass drum on the ETHS drumline and also on the ETHS mock trial team. Outside of school, I love reading, baking, archery, and working on my photography skills. 
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