The Student News Site of Washington International School

International Dateline

The Student News Site of Washington International School

International Dateline

The Student News Site of Washington International School

International Dateline

WIS Students Share The Best Organizations To Volunteer At In DC


Students at WIS are required to complete 20 hours of community service by the end of their sophomore year of high school. When students are part of the International Baccalaureate program beginning their junior year of high school, Creativity, Action, and Service, or CAS, service hours are needed to get the diploma.

When students log hours, they are encouraged to add why they volunteered at that place, and complete a small reflection explaining what they did and why it was significant. This reflection was put in place so that students are not completing service hours solely for receiving the credit for them, but so that students can think deeply about volunteering and why it is so important.

Starting in middle school, students participate in community service through WIS. The organizations students volunteer at include So Others Might Eat, DC Central Kitchen, Martha’s Table, and A Wider Circle, among other local organizations.

Martha’s Table

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A ninth grade WIS student has volunteered at many organizations around DC, but one, in particular, stood out to her. “It felt very good because we were doing something for the good of the community”, Wallemacq said. She volunteered at Martha’s Table, an organization in DC where volunteers prepare and cook food for homeless people. “I remember volunteering [at other organizations] and all we did was sort things, which was a bit boring, whereas Martha’s Table was hands-on and fun to volunteer at,” she said.

Wallemacq spent time at Martha’s Table preparing food for dinner. She explained that what her specific group of volunteers did included peeling potatoes and cutting celery, carrots, and onions. “Afterwards we got to see where the people get served, and we got to watch the staff prepare the dinner” she added. “We also got to learn more about the other programs that they have, which was very interesting.”

The other programs that are part of Martha’s Table are things like helping people in need shop for no-cost food, donating to and assisting at ‘Martha’s Outfitters’ (the community thrift store), and volunteering with their education programs that assist both teachers and students.

Wallemacq adds that she would have benefited more “if we could have actually been able to meet the people we were giving the food to”, but, she said, “I would definitely go back” and volunteer again.

So Others Might Eat

Another organization in DC where many WIS students volunteer is So Others Might Eat. A current WIS student in ninth grade has volunteered at SOME many times, mainly with other WIS students. The first thing that she noticed while volunteering there was that the staff were doing everything to “make sure families in the area could have dinner”, she said. She liked how helpful they were, and how they were really interested in and dedicated to what they were doing.

“I liked that when I volunteered I could do it with people I knew” so that she felt more comfortable, she added. She recommends that people who want to volunteer go in groups. “We could talk to each other while we packed the food, so the time went by really fast”, she said, and it is more interesting, she added, when you can spend the time helping your community while simultaneously socializing.

“I think it was [beneficial, because] … being able to do something meaningful in one day was really good for me”, she continued, “and it was immediately satisfying because we put these packages together [quickly]”, and she knew that they would be delivered that day to people in need.

Overall, her experience was very positive. The advice she gives to potential future volunteers is that “they need to be okay with an assembly line, like repetitive tasks.” “It was worth it, and I would go back again,” she said, “it was a great experience for me.”  

Rock Creek Conservancy

A very popular organization among WIS students located just outside of DC is the Rock Creek Conservancy. WIS students chose to volunteer here because it directly affects them and their community. Vanessa Schor volunteered here for about five months, going every other weekend. “I spent time going to Fort Slocum Park in my neighborhood which is protected by Rock Creek Park and their organizations”, she explains, The Rock Creek Conservancy seeks volunteers to clean up and maintain the parks.

Volunteers are asked to do things such as picking up trash, cleaning benches, and making sure the environment is generally clean and tidy. “Personally, I wish I had been able to devote more time to the issue”, she says, “if I had more time I would’ve been able to make more of a difference”.

People looking to volunteer at the Rock Creek Conservancy should be interested in “looking after the environment, as well as community service for your own neighborhood”, adding that “it’s easy for most people of all ages”, so everybody can help out. Making sure that her neighborhood is clean is very important to Vanessa, and she wishes that more volunteers would help, in order to achieve the goal of clean parks everywhere.

“Picking up people’s trash for them can be a bit frustrating”, she says, but “remember that it’s all for the greater good, and your community definitely appreciates what you’re doing for them”. She explains that it is a nice way to receive community service hours and that you feel like you have “made a difference immediately, which is very rewarding”.

WIS students who are interested in volunteering should either contact Mx. Redding about service opportunities, or sign up to volunteer at any of these organizations through their website.

By Ava Dwyer


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