Volunteers feel 'like a brother figure' to kids in need

Story and photos by Matthew Hancock, Intern

Once a week for the past six school years, the students and teachers at P.S. 721, also known as Stephen McSweeney School, have volunteered at World Vision's Greater New York warehouse in the Bronx.

Jose, a student at P.S. 721, tapes a box for use in sorting and displaying donated products at World Vision's Greater New York warehouse in the Bronx.

Jose, a student at P.S. 721, tapes a box for use in sorting and displaying donated products at World Vision's Greater New York warehouse in the Bronx.

The students and teachers sort items such as hair products and coffee, getting the products organized and ready to be put on the display floor.

Stephen McSweeney is an occupational high school for students with special needs, providing the academic, vocational, and secondary skills that allow them to succeed as adults within their community, according to the New York City Department of Education.

"Volunteering with World Vision makes me happy, and it makes me feel peaceful that we can help other kids," says Jose, a student at the Bronx school.

The weekly visits to the World Vision site provides students with a hands-on opportunity to contribute to the organization's mission of tackling poverty and helping children, while also giving them an awareness of the poverty that is around them.

"I know World Vision is a big company that helps people in need, but for our students, World Vision really helps them out," says Stephanie Casalinuovo, a teacher at Stephen McSweeney. "Coming here gives them an experience that they just can't get in the classroom."

A colorful wall at Urban Youth Alliance International, a faith-based community organization that offers BronxConnect.

Stephanie Casalinuovo (left), teacher at P.S. 721, joins her students in bagging items. Serving at World Vision "gives them an experience that they just can't get in a classroom," she says.

Lending their time and effort to benefit impoverished local children and families makes a personal impact that goes beyond completing a task.

"Being able to help with World Vision means that I'm like a brother figure to someone out there," says George, a student. "I know I'm not physically there with that person, but I’m spiritually there."

The relationship between Stephen McSweeney School and World Vision's Greater New York site has been strong. The bond appears as if it will only grow stronger in the future.

"I love it here so much," says Anthony, another student at the school. "I want to work here so badly."

 

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