Guest post by Emma DiGiulio, a Timken Early College High School (TECHS) junior, C.A.S.T. president and student liaison for Stark County Humane Society and Habitat for Humanity; and Pruitt Miller, TECHS junior and student liaison for Love the Children Ministries
We are helping to make our community a better place, in part thanks to a student-run volunteer organization we are a part of at our high school called C.A.S.T. Being members of C.A.S.T. has been a life-changing experience.
C.A.S.T. stands for Caring and Serving Together and it represents a group of people that dedicate their time to helping those within the community. Our group is entirely student-led with kids from grades 9 through 12 who attend Timken Early College High School. In addition to our student leadership team, we also have two advisors that we owe all of our blessings to: Rhonda Sypek and Patricia Hairston.
All of us C.A.S.T. kids give of our time at organizations throughout Stark County, including The First Tee of Canton, Refuge of Hope, Habitat for Humanity of Greater Stark County, Whispering Grace Horses, Love the Children Ministries and tons more. It can sound overwhelming when we share how much time we spend volunteering or talk about the projects we work on, in addition to school, but it is what we love to do, and everyone is always so willing to make time just to give back.
Sometimes, being part of C.A.S.T. may seem like we just get together, volunteer and then leave, but it is so much more. Everyone in this group spends an immense amount of time together in and out of school and it allows us to develop absolutely amazing relationships, not just with those we volunteer with, but also with those we volunteer for. When we have an opportunity to serve, you can look at our faces and see how great everyone feels as they are serving, no matter the place or the task. The entire time, we know we’re doing something that will impact so many, which makes us want to give it our absolute all. Being able to experience this is a blessing that we never want to give up.
On November 2, 2018, the students of C.A.S.T. received the AFPNEO Youth in Philanthropy Award. Receiving the award was a great honor and surprise. When serving at different organizations, we never imagined that we would be recognized in such a big way! Our partner organization, The First Tee of Canton, was the organization who nominated us. The emcees who announced and gave us our award were leaders from another partner of ours, The Refuge of Hope. Knowing that the people we serve for were the ones giving back to us made everything much more personal and heartwarming.
Even when it comes time for us to graduate high school and start a new journey, we will always be a part of C.A.S.T. and will continue giving back to the world in every way we can.