Marlins in Action
They helped clean up and paint the Port Aransas Animal Shelter.
They washed the fire engines at the fire department.
They’ll help run the Kiwanis Beach Dash next month.
They were part of Port Aransas’ Centennial celebration in October, and the Port Aransas Education Foundation is indebted to them
One of them has worked on painting the First Baptist Church; another weeds and mows his church’s yard.
What they have in common is that they’re all students at Port Aransas High School, and all part of Marlins In Action, a program designed to let students give back to their community through community service.
So far, more than 40 young people have documented community service totaling more than 300 hours, according to Janice Roberts, who keeps the records for the project.
“Our community gives so much to the kids, I thought the kids should give back to the community,” Roberts said, explaining the reasoning behind Marlins In Action. It was Roberts’ idea, and she provides the records-keeping and encouragement for the project.
The group’s formal mission is “to promote student participation in charitable service and volunteerism within the Port Aransas community and the Port Aransas Independent School District.”
Roberts said the group was organized in mid-September, and so far more than 10 non-profit organizations have offered community service opportunities for students.
“We’re working on adding more,” she said.
Organizations that want student volunteers can call her at 749-7126 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Keep Port Aransas Beautiful gives me a pretty good list (of tasks) to work from,” Roberts said, laughing.
No pay is involved, but it’s not all altruistic. Students who volunteer under the program are likely to get a boost in their academic and business careers, sponsors said.
Universities and businesses look for well-rounded applicants, and community service can often be a deciding factor, Roberts pointed out.
The idea is for students to average 20 hours a year of community service. At graduation, they’ll be wearing a “community service” cord on their gowns. Roberts said she’s still working on the exact design of the cord.
The cord and the edge when talking to college recruiters are among the things that drew senior Zovi Latkovic into the program.
“It was going all around school how you can get the rope and get recognized,” Latkovic said. “It’s a really great idea. When you go to a college and they see you volunteered, it could help you get in.”
Latkovic said she has helped with the fire truck washing as well as wrapping Christmas presents for the Ronald McDonald House. She has worked at the Kiwanis Club’s annual baked potato sale fundraiser and helped clean and paint the animal shelter.
She has no specific plans for more projects, but said the group meets regularly to hear about new opportunities.
“I have almost 20 hours, and will have more than 20 before the deadline,” she said. “I’ll get as many (hours) as I can, but definitely more than 20.”
“I’m very thrilled with the program and with our students’ participation,” said Port Aransas High School principal Sharon McKinney. While the school isn’t a sponsor of the program, it provides meeting space and a bulletin board where students can post notes about community service projects.
It’s also where Roberts and participants meet about once a month for pizza and to kick around new ideas for service projects.
To be considered, students must fill out a form that’s available through Port Aransas ISD or from Roberts. It includes the organization for which the student is providing service, the dates and hours of the service and the organization sponsor’s name as verification,
Copies of the form can be used as part of applications for college and technical schools, employment and scholarships, Roberts pointed out.
The graduation requirement is pro-rated, since Marlins In Action only started this school year: This year’s seniors must submit a total of 20 hours by April 1 to be considered for a community service cord. Juniors will have to complete 40 hours of service before they graduate in 2012, this year’s sophomores will need 60 hours by 2013 and freshmen in 2011 have three more years to accumulate their 80 hours of service.
Service is limited to eight hours in any one day; hours worked over the summer must be turned in by the end of the first six weeks, according to the Marlins In Action form.
Anyone with questions should call Roberts or e-mail email@example.com, she said.
“The idea is to recognize and honor students who make a difference in their community by volunteering.”
“It’s teaching our students to be active members of the community,” McKinney said. “This is good citizenship.”