Making blankets, stocking food banks, cooking and serving food, and investing in young children – that’s what Oxford High students have the opportunity to do several times a month as part of I’m 3rd, the school’s volunteer club.
Touting the belief that they should put their life beliefs first, others second and themselves third, the students spend some of their post-school hours investing in those younger or less fortunate than themselves.
In the past, the group has volunteered at Gleaners Food Bank in Pontiac, Grace Centers of Hope in Pontiac, the Baldwin Center in Pontiac, Hope Senior Living in Oxford and more.
Led by OHS math teacher Joseph Amabile and psychologist Amy Wright, students are able advance causes they are passionate about.
“Our meetings (in the beginning) were kind of come in with people you want to help and we’ll make phone calls to try and help them,” Amabile said. “I had this kid come in who was like, ‘Oh my gosh, there’s this woman, an older lady, who has to drive down this road and her road is full of potholes . . . So I gave him the number to the city and he called them. About 5 minutes later, he came back into the room just beside himself because the city was going to go fix the road the next day for her.”
Amabile said the club was originally formed years ago to help at-risk students, but has since branched out to welcome any and all OHS students. Amabile thinks there’s a special kind of learning derived from helping others, and he thinks I’m 3rd impacts his students in big ways.
“I think everybody thinks they have to be a doctor or an engineer, or they have to do something big to be successful,” Amabile said. “And I think these students realize that success isn’t how much money you make – your purpose in life and helping the people you’ve helped (is what matters) . . . They realize that life is a lot bigger than chasing after material things.”
Amabile has had students leave the club and pursue lives of service. He noted one student went on to build homes for Habitat For Humanity. He and Wright hope the club impacts the students’ moral lives as much as they impact those they serve. “We hope that they understand what it means to be part of a community and (the importance of) reaching out to your neighbor and helping them,” Wright said.
Wright said students don’t have to commit to a full year with the club. They can volunteer as they please.
Aside from new students, the group is seeking parent involvement for things like transportation. Wright and Amabile want to be sure they can keep as many students as possible involved in the community.
With the air getting cooler and the fall semester in full swing, the club is starting to plan what it’ll do this semester. Its next meeting is Sept. 19. Newcomers are welcome.