Travel Restrictions Provide Holderness Students with Local Opportunity to Give Back
The Holderness School, a boarding and day school for students 9th through 12th grade, sits in the beautiful White Mountains of New Hampshire. In the fall of 2020, they brought their students back to campus while following strict guidelines to keep their community safe.
Each year, Holderness holds an eleven-day Special Programs experience that all grade levels participate in. The 11th graders visit the White Mountains to camp for the week, while the 10th graders are introduced to artists from around the country, and the 9th graders participate in a service-learning experience called Project Outreach.
In previous years, the Project Outreach program consisted of packing up the Holderness School buses and traveling to Philadelphia for ten days. Over the course of this trip, the 9th graders would provide community service to a variety of organizations that needed help. When Carol Dopp joined Holderness School five years ago as the Director of Counseling, she felt that the program should be closer to home, so they moved their experience to Lowell, Massachusetts.
In March of 2020 the students and staff packed up their things and drove down to Massachusetts for their annual Project Outreach program. Due to COVID-19, they spent one night and then had to head back to New Hampshire without a plan.
This year, Dopp was determined to give the students a great Project Outreach experience, without going too far outside of the greater Holderness area. Carol reached out to Granite United Way to find out what opportunities were available.
“I know the local places, but I knew that they wouldn’t want us coming in due to the pandemic,” explained Dopp. “Granite United Way was instrumental in helping me find work for our kids to do.”
Granite United Way connected the fifty-seven Holderness students with partners across the state, all the way from Feeding Hope in Bristol to the NH Food Bank in Manchester. Students were divided up and participated in volunteer activities such as serving food to the homeless, cooking lasagna and delivering them to food pantries, helping Copper Canon Camp set up for the incoming season, assisting in planting and learning about agriculture at the Prescott Environmental Education Center and cleaning windows and burning brush for the Bristol Historical Society.
“Our students learned about the real struggles people face in the state, from food assistance to homelessness,” Dopp said. “It worked out so well this year, we are going to stay local again next year.”
The students didn’t stop here. The eleven-day service-learning experience sparked a feeling of wanting to do more. Dopp received a request from their previous partner, the Lowell Special Olympics, regarding their Polar Plunge fundraiser. The kids knew they wanted to participate, but with a twist. They came together and planned a Slip n Slide event to raise money for the Special Olympics. All together they raised approximately $6,000.
The Holderness School has always been a wonderful community partner. Each year they encourage their students to volunteer at Granite United Way’s annual Day of Caring. We are ecstatic to see the impact that their students have made and will continue to make across the state!