The frost was still melting from the Front Campus lawn last Friday morning when MCI students, rakes in hand, dispersed all over Pittsfield to lend a helping hand.
Friday, October 29 was the 14th annual edition of MCI’s Fall Community Service Day. The growing autumn tradition sees students pitch in together to clean up local parks and residences before the snow falls. In their homeroom advisory groups, students left campus on foot to assigned locations around Pittsfield to rake leaves, stack firewood, and even help set up the public ice rink at The Pinnacle ski hill.
The yearly tradition, organized by Academic Dean and Community Service Director Scott Giallombardo, is the school’s way of giving back to the community that has always offered its unwavering support. “Perhaps the greatest lesson that our students can learn is how to spread kindness by giving back to others,” said Mr. Giallombardo. “From raking and bagging leaves, to winterizing homes, our students did a wonderful job in looking after their community, and we are all very proud of them!”
MCI requires students to participate in community service as a graduation requirement. Many students complete their hours through volunteer efforts on their own time, but the Fall Community Service Day provides an opportunity to pick up a few extra hours during a weekday.
Filling a graduation requirement is hardly the only benefit to volunteering, though, according to numerous studies. In addition to increasing social connectedness and helping alleviate anxiety and depression, one study even suggests that efforts to serve one’s community can even lead to lower blood pressure and a longer life span. Another researcher found that those who give their time to others actually feel like they have more time on their hands to get things done.
This year, amidst the demands of pandemic teaching and learning, students and staff found that stepping away from the digital world and breathing some fresh air was just what they needed on a crisp October morning. Some students found that even while working hard, they find the work restful in its own way. “It frees up the mind, like a mental break,” said sophomore Addison Verrill. “And it’s on a Friday!”
So, while community members get their leaves bagged and their cord wood stacked, it might be the volunteers who see the most benefit. For that, we thank everyone who invited us to help out!