We’ve all heard of Letter for Sports achievements but a Letter for Community Service, that’s a newer idea! Actually it’s a 6 year old idea. The program was begun in the 2001-2002 school year by the United Way. United Way realized that students who participate in community service spend just as much time and energy on their community service as a varsity athlete spends on their sport. They have coordinated agreements with 23 High Schools in 10 districts in Pierce County and 2 private schools, that students who complete a minimum of 145 hours in 1 year in at least 2 different community service organizations can earn their school letter.
The first year 8 students were awarded letters. This year there were 113 Letters all together, 13 Freshman,11 Sophomores, 39 Juniors, and 25 Seniors. There was 1 student this year, Christine Dyson of Franklin Pierce High School, who received her 4th Letter in Community Service. 74 students were awarded their first Letter for the 2006- 2007 year. How many hours have these students volunteered? 25,353 hours were sent in, but most students actually do more than they record. This translates to $475,875.81 saved by organizations that otherwise they might have to pay for. What an amazing commitment of time, energy and dedication by these students.
Not only do these students receive their school Letter but they are also presented Presidential Volunteer Service Awards at varying levels depending on the amount of hours they worked. This award is a small pin and a certificate and letter signed by President Bush.
In our area this year we had 1 student each from our High Schools. Thivanka Samaranayake, a Senior at Clover Park High received his first letter for providing 221 volunteer hours. His work included volunteering at St. Clare, serving food at the Tacoma Rescue Mission, President of the CPHS InterAct Club and serving at the Sarana International Buddhist Center. He also was a recipient of a Silver Presidential Volunteer Service Award.
Lakes High School sophomore, Brittanie Saxberg (left), received her first Letter this year for 188 hours volunteered. Brittanie was a member of the Community Inclusion Program, served on the Special 4 Advisory Council, member of the Oasis-Gay Straight Alliance Club, assisted with the Firwood School’s Positive Behavior Support Kick off. she was also presented with a Silver Presidential Service Award.
As a third year letter winner, Erin Hobbs (above) of Steilacoom High School, served 280 hours and was granted a Gold Presidential Volunteer Service Award. Erin volunteered on the St. John Bosco Youth Leadership Council, served migrant workers on a mission trip, was a board member for the SHS National Honor Society and helped at many community events.
Congratulations to these students and thanks for their many hours of assistance in our communities.
Written by Karen Hobbs