When it comes to volunteer service, Clonlara off-campus students Lucia and Luna are no strangers to giving back to their communities. Their mother Manuela runs In A Perfect World, a nonprofit focused on solving societal issues and educating the next generation about the challenges we face. Through their involvement, Manuela says, Lucia and Luna “learn about BIG social issues—not to burden them—but to compel them to act.” They are youth ambassadors for the program and have completed many ambitious projects extending gratitude, kindness, and support to others in need.
Earlier this year, the girls decided they wanted to help Toronto’s homeless population during the cold winter months. “Once winter came, they were very concerned about what would happen to these unhoused individuals in freezing conditions,” Manuela shares.
With their goal in mind, Lucia and Luna created warming care packages with supplies to help the homeless face the cold temperatures. They worked within a budget, making strategic decisions about what to include and how many bundles they wanted to assemble. “I asked them to prioritize the items on their list so we could research the cost of each item and determine how many care packages we could create,” Manuela explains. Lucia and Luna drew on different skills including math (for budgeting) and penmanship (writing messages to include in each package), but their work also led to discussions around the causes of homelessness and the mental health challenges that can contribute to someone becoming homeless. “The most important part [of the project] was focusing on the social-emotional learning component,” Manuela says.
The girls’ packages included blankets, hats, gloves, snacks, toiletries, tissues, masks, wipes, hand sanitizer, socks, and hand and feet warmers. For help with distribution, the family chose to partner with a local church program that provides food and other resources to the homeless community. After dropping off the 30 packages they had made, the girls learned that the church feeds 200 people every week!
“Lucia was disappointed that we were not able to create 200 care packages so that each person could receive one,” shares Manuela. “The reverend quickly corrected her, reminding her that 30 people who did not have anything now had their care packages to help them survive the winter. He also said that by helping in the way that they did, they would inspire others to do their part as well.”
Clonlara students like Lucia and Luna make a difference in many ways, writing letters to frontline healthcare workers, creating care packages for those in need, starting fundraisers for causes they believe in, and much more.
During our Global Give Back (the week of April 18–24), you can join us in celebrating these caring students and the importance of volunteer service to Clonlara’s educational approach. Choose a project that is important to your family and dedicate time (one hour, one day, or more!) to giving back to your local community. For inspiration, check out these ideas from Everyday Kindness, a new initiative from Manuela’s nonprofit that includes volunteer projects for kids to do from home.
Lucia and Luna show how volunteering projects can lead to rich learning experiences. Do you have a volunteer story to tell? Please share with us below.