UNICEF – An Inside Perspective from the Community Service Club

Chloe Flynn, Feature Writer

       It is a Gibbons tradition to hold a Halloween fundraiser every year. Students are allowed to wear their costume to school with a donation of $1. All proceeds go to UNICEF (United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund) which has been working hard to help children around the world since 1946. Gibbons has also incorporated trick-or-treat boxes, where students ask for donations of spare change as they go door to door on Halloween night. The Gibbons Community Service Club has taken the responsibility of promoting the fundraiser, as well as keeping track of the proceeds. 


       To get a more behind the scenes look on the event, I interviewed three valuable members of the Community Service Club — Rachel Weiner on the Orange Team, who believes people should want to do nice things for the world without expecting anything in return. “I really do think [joining Community Service] is my first step to becoming an activist,” she stated. Along with Rachel, l interviewed the Blue Team’s Aika Borba, who wants to do more than simply donating a dollar; she enjoys more hands-on projects and diving deep into the meanings behind said projects. She is also passionate about raising awareness around matters that are important to her. Lastly, I interviewed Ms. Gerstenzang, one of the Community Service club administrators. She chooses to run the Community Service Club to make helping others fun and to give students the opportunity to make a difference. Even though it is hard to make an impact on the world at such a young age, she believes that the club gives students the practice and tools that they will need later in life. 


       It is important to address the fact that our school community is microscopic compared to the rest of the world. Ms. G. believes that the UNICEF fundraiser helps us remember that  “not everyone lives in the same situation as us.” She describes it as something fun for Gibbons and it benefits other people at the same time. “It’s like win-win,” she remarks. Rachel agrees adding, “People are more likely to donate if they get something out of it, too.”  It is especially difficult to make an impact as a kid because our power is constantly limited. 


       Aika admitted that she feels “helpless” seeing tragic events on the news and social media and not being able to do anything about them. In the future, she wishes to look back without regrets about how much effort she put into bettering the world. Aika tries to see in the perspective of less fortunate communities. She is constantly trying to think about people who have less than her and believes that helping others is “the right thing to do.” Rachel agrees with many points Aika touched upon and feels a desperation to help, as well. Rachel also fears that history will repeat itself and that the world could become a more dangerous place in years to come. She trusts she can be a part of the resistance to prevent that. 


       Ms. G. gathers that since UNICEF had been around for so long, it draws in more donations than other fundraisers. She remembers doing it as a kid, and knows that her mom did, as well. She thinks of it as a shared experience between generations, which can encourage older family members to donate. “It all adds up to something really, really big,” she concluded. “It’s not about how much each individual person makes,” Aika added. Establishing a large community of people who can pitch in just a little bit is what is truly important to her.


       Ms. G. clarified that Gibbons did not set a money goal for the fundraiser this year because it is the first year students have been allowed to wear costumes since COVID. This year her main goal was to get the fundraiser back up and running for good. Aika has goals for this fundraiser, as well. She wants, “To raise awareness about certain situations…and like to get people woke.” She goes on to explain that because Westborough is such a privileged town, many of its residents are not aware of the struggles going on outside of our community. “We all live in a bit of a bubble,” Ms. G. adds. She also notes that many issues, like the war in Ukraine, have had a large presence on social media which has been the main influence for people to help. However, she stresses that there are also many other issues that are not shown on social media and therefore do not get enough attention, like the floods in Pakistan. As a solution to this issue, Rachel proposes that we should normalize helping out throughout the year, not just for special occasions and fundraisers. 


       These ideas lead us to the question: How can you make a difference on your own time? Ms. G reflects on a natural disaster that happened a number of years ago and how she decided to donate her surplus of money during that period of time to the cause. She encourages people to create a reasonable goal to donate to a cause that they care about. Maybe even setting a regular goal, like annually or monthly. Also keep in mind that donating doesn’t always mean money. With these goals you can donate clothes, hygiene products, food, toys, books, so many things that people don’t have. You can also consider donating your time by volunteering. “Make a goal for yourself and say, ‘What is it I can do?’” Ms. G. advises. Aika vocalizes the fact that many people choose not to stand up for something that they believe in because they are afraid of the backlash or opinions of others. People often have trouble finding resources to start a movement, as well. “Once the opportunity is given to you, take the opportunity,” she expresses. To be an active member of the community, Rachel thinks that people should find a way to get involved in something that they care about, even if it is hard to do as a kid. “Stop putting it off and making excuses,” Aika adds. “A lot of times people have really good ideas, but they don’t know how to start it or they don’t know how to put in the work to start it, so they don’t tell anyone,” Rachel says. Never be afraid to share your ideas, because the greatest changes in history would not have happened without crazy, wonderful ideas!


       UNICEF is an important organization and our school is lucky to be involved with it. This year the Community Service Club is proud to announce that it has collected over $1,000 for the fundraiser. There are many aspects that set UNICEF apart from other organizations, but one key element is the number of generations that have experienced it. UNICEF creates connections within the community, and promotes a change for the greater good. Remember, you can make an impact by simply starting small.