Community Service Opportunities


Maya Couey and Joshua Hangartner, Staff Writer

“We have a social responsibility to give back to our communities,” asserts Christina Zupanc, Coordinator of Service Learning and Community Engagement at La Jolla Country Day School. The mere existence of Zupanc’s in the administration is representative of the emphasis on service learning at Country Day as an integral part of our school curriculum. With the help of faculty like Zupanc and our “very developed” service learning program, students at Country Day occupy a rare and opportune position to give back to their communities in a meaningful way. Nevertheless, many students still struggle to stay up to date on and commit to the impactful community service opportunities offered and proposed by the school. This article seeks to give greater insight into the ways that students can get involved at school, at home, in San Diego, and even globally, while also shedding light on the benefits of giving back. 

“School is a starting point” notes Zupanc, but where within school does one start? The simplest ways for students to access service learning opportunities: joining flexes and clubs. Every semester, students are presented with the opportunity to sign up for Country Day’s numerous and diverse extracurricular flexes and clubs, many of which center on service learning. Currently, the “hub” of Country Day’s community service opportunities is the Community Service Board (CSB), led by Zupanc herself. The Community Service Board. Other flexes include LJCDS Lucky Ducklings, which seeks to bring awareness to and alleviate the city’s unhoused community, and Green Team, the school’s environment-focused club which provides students with reusable utensils to limit plastic waste. Clubs, which meet at lunch as opposed to during flex, include the Eco Action Team, San Diego Empowered, and Saving Stars. If students were not aware of all the different organizations on campus, it would not be surprising—unfortunately, most of the amazing clubs and flexes on campus do not get as much recognition as they deserve.

Outside of school, Zupanc suggests, there are also many “at-home opportunities” for students and their families to take advantage of. For example, students can make “sanitary kits” with materials provided by the San Diego Rescue Mission, a non-profit homeless shelter and recovery center. These “kits” include cleanliness materials such as wipes, hand sanitizers, and masks. Additionally, volunteers are also invited to include granola bars and other approved food items. When finished, the kits can be returned to the organization where they are distributed. Another at-home volunteer initiative students can participate in is the making of plarn mats. To create these mats, volunteers use plastic bags as yarn [explain how this works]. The final at-home opportunity proposed by Zupanc is run by Operation Gratitude. The organization invites volunteers to make bracelets using the requested materials online from [insert link and more information about organization].

If you’re looking for something to do outside of the home, there are countless things to do in San Diego. Beach cleanups are very popular, for example, and they don’t even need to be done with an organization. “You always want to think about the needs of your community,” Zupanc told us. With this in mind, canyon cleanups and other environmental work can be added to the list. Homelessness is also a very prominent issue in San Diego, and because of it, many organizations are working to combat it currently. The Lucky Duck Foundation, Interfaith Community Services, and the Youth Assistance Coalition are only a few examples of organizations that are already doing the work. An easy way to get involved is to just contact or look up any such organization and learn how to help. Zupanc also noted that if there is not an organization currently working to do what you want to achieve, start your own initiative! Even if something starts small, it does not mean that it can’t become big and make a huge positive impact.

Animal care is also necessary in San Diego and we can imagine that it’s a very popular service opportunity for young people. With San Diego being so close to the Mexican border, the amount of rescue animals in our area coming from across the border is very high. Consequently, there are also a lot of animal shelters. Helping with animal care is available to all ages and there are many organizations in San Diego contributing to this work that accept volunteers. Another easily accessible organization is Feeding San Diego—one that you undoubtedly know about. This is a great idea for younger kids, as the work can be very simple and easy. Zupact noted that the lower school kids who participate in service often volunteer with Feeding San Diego. These are only a few choices, but remember that community service is not limited to these. San Diego is a hub for service opportunities, and if you ask us, there is no better place for it.

Community service is a fantastic thing to do to help with issues that need it. Even if a single act feels small, a lot of helping hands create a big impact. With that being said, we want to encourage everyone to get involved in service. It is one of the kindest things a person can do. And, as we’ve said many times already, San Diego is perfect for service. There are countless opportunities, so anyone is bound to find something that they would be interested in doing. One thing to be aware of, however, is that there are sometimes age restrictions for certain volunteer jobs. But, even with that, it still should not be too hard to find something that anyone can do, and you can’t forget about the at-home and individual opportunities that exist at all times. Ms. Zupanc informed us that there are a lot of things out there that people don’t even know about. “Utilize your skills and interests,” she reiterated, noting that this is best way to approach getting involved in community service. And, again, Country Day is known for community service and our program is very developed. We really are in the best place possible to jump into giving help where help is needed. If you would like to know more, feel free to email either of us, leaders of service-oriented clubs or flexes, or Christina Zupanc.