June 17, 2008 | 11:29 am
Posted by Dikla Kadosh
Jewish Journal super-intern, Jina Davidovich, writes about her extracurricular activities for The Calendar Girls:
As a senior at Yeshiva University of Los Angeles Girls’ School, my obligations extend beyond surviving anxiety attacks that come with opening college decision letters, keeping up my grades and attempting to have a social life. Every week, YULA students are required to do one hour of community service (chesed) which is then recorded on yellow cards with blue stamps. Those blue stamps are highly coveted for the simple reason that not having enough of them means not graduating.
I pulled out my chesed card a couple of weeks ago and turned it over to find that five of the boxes were sans stamps. I started to panic. Luckily, our school psychologist had a suggestion—the Aleinu Family Services Hike-a-Thon, worthy of one blue stamp. While I am not the most enthusiastic nature lover, I knew Aleinu is a great organization so mustering up the desire to help wasn’t difficult.
The Hike-a-Thon took place June 1st at Kenneth Hahn Park, where hundreds gathered to raise money for Aleinu’s Safety Kid project. In learning more about the extremely successful program, my interest was suddenly piqued. Safety Kid trains educators around the country to go into pre-school, elementary and middle schools to teach adolescents the importance of safety and ways to implement it in their day-to-day lives. In addition to demonstrations, the Child Safety Institute, which runs Safety Kid, has presentations for parents and educators to ensure that their steps toward safety come from a joined front of kids, adults, and teachers.
At the event, families gathered around water stations to rehydrate after the hike. Children were running around, parents were grinning, the weather was gorgeous and suddenly, the blue stamp didn’t matter. My job was to distribute prizes to the excited kids. Water guns were a predictable favorite, which resulted in my t-shirt being damp by the end of the day. My required hour was over, but I didn’t want to leave yet. I was having a great time.
Coincidentally, the YULA community service coordinator approached me with her four kids. “Looks like someone is in desperate need of hours,” she joked. “Nope,” I responded, “someone is just dedicated to the community and wants to lend a helping hand.” We both laughed at my slightly sarcastic comment, but I realized it was really true. Having heard so many stories of child abuse and abduction, it felt good to be helping to create a way to prevent children from being harmed.
I handed out my last water gun and headed home.
One stamp down, 4 to go.
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