Archbishop Molloy High School students in Briarwood give back to the community during winter break

Photo credit: SMCS

Student volunteers at a local Briarwood high school spent their winter break doing good for fellow Queens residents.

Members of the St. Marcellin Champagnat Society (SMCS) at Archbishop Molloy High School volunteered at the Ronald McDonald House of Little Neck and the Commonpoint Queens Food Pantry in Forest Hills on Feb. 17 and 19.

According to society volunteer, teacher and Molloy alum Brian Klimas, about 25 students participated in both of the events in February. On Sunday, Feb. 17, students took a trip to the Ronald McDonald House, where they had the opportunity to cook and serve brunch to families whose children are patients at the nearby hospital.

Klimas said that about 11 students took a tour of the facilities and then made the parents a buffet including eggs, bacon, sausage, toast and bagels.

For their second trip, Klimas accompanied the students to the Commonpoint Queens Food Pantry on Feb. 19, where volunteers were responsible for packing assorted vegetables for needy residents. Students packed the vegetables in smaller bags, fulfilling orders received online and assisting residents with order pickups.

“The kids loved it. They had been there before and they seemed to get a lot out of it,” Klimas said. “It makes it effective to see the difference [volunteering] is doing.”

Fellow teacher volunteer and alum Sabina Kobinski shared that one of the components of every volunteer trip is interaction with members of the community.

“It’s important for students to have that human interaction,” Kobinski said. “When they see that some people don’t have food on the table, it puts their lives into perspective.”

The SMCS originated in Lourdes, France, based on the tenants of St. Marcellin Champagnat, the founder of the Marist Brothers. Molloy educators Christopher Dougherty and Brother Pat Hogan founded the school’s chapter of the society in 2005.

“Brother Pat and I first hatched the idea in the late ’90s and 9/11 put all of that on hold. After my Molloy trip to Italy in Easter 2004, he felt it was time to try again. So [in] fall ’04, we started researching and planning and then the first trip ever was Lourdes [in] summer 2005,” Dougherty said.

Every few years students and teachers in SMCS take a weeklong trip to Lourdes which involves helping visitors bathe in Lourdes’ healing waters and a visit to the Marist Brothers’ hermitage. Klimas said that students are set to make the visit this summer.

Students in the society also get the opportunity to travel abroad for volunteer work. The following is a list of places the SCMC members have been:

  • Nicaragua with Mustard Seed
  • Peru
  • Dominican Republic with Mustard Seed
  • Jamaica with Mustard Seed
  • Big Sur with Rustic Pathways
  • Dakotas on an Native American reservation
  • Rockaway Beach/Breezy Point x2 after Hurricane Sandy with Operation Blessing
  • Boston with Habitat for Humanity
  • New Orleans with Habitat for Humanity
  • Arizona through Border Links
  • Costa Rica through Rustic Pathways

Kobinski observed that the volunteer trips “molds students for the rest of their lives,” and some opt to pursue careers in special education, speech pathology and other service-oriented fields.

Correction on March 14: An older version of the article said that the students volunteered at the Forest Hills Food Bank when they actually volunteered at the Commonpoint Queens Food Pantry. The old article also misspelled Brian Klimas’ name as “Kilmas” but it has since been corrected. 

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