Zhong was subsequently present on the volunteer field trip organized by Admissions Director Meghan O’Callaghan. I also volunteered for the Saturday trip to clean up Long Beach, along with dozens of other LWA students ranging from freshmen to seniors. Working in groups and armed with trash bags, shovels, and brooms, we scoured the residential area surrounding the Long Beach Ice Arena for trash and debris. It wasn’t the cleanest of tasks, and we all returned home with at least some mud on our jackets or faces.
However, we also took with us a sense of pride and accomplishment. To look back at the areas we covered — heavily strewn with rubbish before we started —and see in place neat and tidy expanses was a valuable and invigorating experience. It was wonderful to know that we restored some beauty to the neighborhood while, surprisingly, having fun at the same time.
On the bus back, we even compiled a list of our most memorable finds of the day, to be made into a poem and shared with the rest of the school. The unique items on the list helped us realize the many different things each of us found, and how it was due to every single one of us that so much was done.
Upper school teacher Bobby Schaefer also recognized the importance of his individual contribution to the whole. While giving away blankets to those still without heat, he noticed that some volunteers looked particularly exhausted. He found out that the usual volunteers at various community centers had all been working overnight to keep up with the amount of work that had to be done. Whenever new volunteers come, even if it is only for an hour or two, the burden is easier to bear.
Schaefer began devoting any extra time he had to volunteer, and he saw that whenever he took over a shift, not only was he able to provide fresh energy and enthusiasm to the cause but others were also able to refresh and do their jobs more efficiently as well. The more people who help, the easier the task seems. And there are many, many tasks still yet to be completed, daily, to continue on with recovery. “It’s an ongoing effort,” Schaefer said. “Every hand is needed.”