NEW ALBANY – A group of local high school students have dedicated hundreds of hours to serving the community, whether feeding the homeless or helping at an animal shelter.
The Anchor Club of New Albany High School was formed in 2019 and has grown steadily since then. It is a student-run community service organization, and it engages students in efforts ranging from giving to volunteering with community organizations.
The NAHS club is affiliated with Anchor Club International, a nonprofit, voluntary youth organization, and the club was actually nominated for the Anchor Club of the Year award.
The club has already offered approximately 650 hours of community service since August.
NAHS senior Abigail Sekula is the president of the Anchor Club, and was a founding member when the club was formed three years ago.
She said it is important for students to become aware of issues such as homelessness that exist within the community.
“One of the things we’ve really focused on this year is how to bring our members closer to the unseen people in our communities,” she said.
Since August, the Anchor Club has regularly volunteered with We the People of New Albany, a group that serves meals to the homeless in Bicknell Park on Sundays. The Anchor Club volunteers to serve food each month.
The club has volunteered to cook the entire Thanksgiving meal with We the People of New Albany, and the students will be bringing in food for the Christmas dinner again later this month.
NAHS science teacher Stephanie Lone is the Anchor Club sponsor. Former student Kaite Reisinger came up with the idea for the club three years ago.
She was impressed with the work the students put into serving the Southern Indiana community.
“They help the less fortunate but also spread a positive vibe throughout the community, and that’s just great,” Lone said.
Lone sees the Anchor Club as “the start of a movement” within the school.
“I’ve been working here for a long time, and we have so many good things going on,” Lone said. “It’s a phenomenal building with great things, great staff, great students, but it’s one thing that I saw that caused a little change. You can tell – it started with about 20 people, and the next year it was about 40 people, and this year it’s almost 90 people, and they’re really involved.
Abigail’s sisters, Amelia and Anna, are also involved in the club. Anna, a second year student, is the president-elect of the Anchor Club.
Anna said the club is focused on ways to help students within the community, including supporting local children through The Salvation Army’s Angel Tree program.
“We try to focus a lot on reaching out to people within our school, like what they want, what we as New Albany want to represent when we help and just work from there,” she declared.
Amelia, also a sophomore student, said it was her first year at the club and it was a rewarding experience getting involved in organizing volunteers, including feeding the homeless and helping animals. at the local animal shelter.
“I had heard about it from my siblings, but participating is different from hearing about it, because you hear about feeding the homeless and it’s like, oh that’s great, but when there you are, things are moving, ”she said. noted. “It really is. Working with those animals in the animal shelter that don’t get a lot of love, it’s like you petting the cats and they love it, and it’s so good.
Anna described a moving moment serving the group at the Thanksgiving dinner with We the People of New Albany.
“One of the members has deaf parents, so she can sign, and there’s a man who comes there every Sunday, and he’s deaf, and he has never been able to talk to anyone during meals,” he said. she declared. “She apparently knew him because there isn’t a large deaf population in New Albany. He recognized her, he knew his parents, and they really got to experience that moment.
It is powerful to make these connections with community members facing homelessness, said Anna.
“I have the impression that in society in general, the homeless are seen as faceless people, and it is very moving to be able to see these people and to know that they are real people with real stories. , real jobs and real talent – it’s very touching, “she said.
Amelia said the club also focused on serving the high school teachers, including cleaning or organizing classrooms and writing positive notes to encourage them.
Raymond Herron, a senior, is in his second year with the Anchor Club. The organization offers a positive portrayal of New Albany High School, he said.
“It’s really nice to hear principals and only school officials say how excited and happy they are to hear what we’re doing,” he said. “Our own director, [Michelle Ginkins] was very supportive and very proud that we were able to do this and be a good representation of our school.
Herron is happy that the organization has been able to accomplish over the past few months. Last year, the pandemic affected the club’s ability to go out into the community, and it made it easier for students to participate in the hands-on service this year.
“It’s a lot nicer to be able to have more opportunities to be able to do different things for different people instead of last year, where we didn’t really do that much,” Herron said. “It had a really big impact on me as a person who last year did nothing to be able to go out and be able to help people who need help and just see the happiness that comes. people and the gratitude that comes from them, it opens my mind and makes me feel full inside.
Isaac Minton, senior of the NAHS, is the membership director of the Anchor Club. He was only involved this year, but he has seen the group evolve since their debut a few years ago.
“I wanted to be a part of it last year, but due to COVID I couldn’t,” he said. “This year I’m so lucky to have joined, because it’s such a great experience – helping feed the homeless, going to churches in Corydon to help wrap gifts for those less fortunate, helping the homeless. teachers It was all a great experience that really opened my eyes and showed me a different perspective that you won’t get anywhere else.
Minton said the club has shown the difference a student can make, as well as the power of a group of students.
“We can make a difference, we can make an impact on the lives of others,” he said. “We’re in high school, but now we’re more involved, we can do more.”
Abigail said the club has made the community a more charitable place.
“We’re such a big part of our community, so knowing that we’re actively engaged in it – I think that’s one of the main goals of a school,” she said.