SOUTHINGTON -Southington Youth Services has put out a call for volunteers of ages 14 and older to help out with this year’s Race 4 Chase, Bread for Life’s summer meals program and the Farmer’s Market.
The Youth Volunteer Program is now accepting applications from Southington youths 14 and older. The program is intended to help teens gain valuable experience and learn about giving back to the community. Applicants will be matched with one of three community service projects of their interest. Each project will have a set schedule and mentors to help youths with their project. Applications are available in the school guidance offices and at Southington Youth Services, located at the John Weichsel Municipal Center at 200 N. Main St.
Donna Ayer, executive director of Bread for Life, said that this is the third year that the nonprofit is partnering with Southington Youth Services. Volunteers will help provide children in the community who qualify for free lunches in the school system with meals over summer vacation.
“Last year, we provided 2,145 lunches at four sites that we deliver to,” said Ayer. “The youth volunteers will be helping at one of those sites. This program will run for nine weeks – all summer long. The kids learn some great skills and this gives them an opportunity to learn how good it feels to make a difference in someone’s life.”
Ayer said that volunteers will be trained with an adult to prepare food and bag it. Volunteers will also be able to go out to the site where lunch is being served and sit down and eat with children.
“The volunteers provide them with conversation and companionship,” said Ayer. “They also bring along Wiffle balls and bats, Hula hoops, jump ropes, coloring books and other things for games and activities after the meals. Sometimes the Fire Department or the Library will also offer an activity.”
Additionally, Ayer said that volunteers will be able to work in the Community Garden, located next to Bread for Life, at 31 Vermont Ave. There, they can gain agricultural experience as they learn to plant and harvest vegetables.
Jolene Miceli, healthy living coordinator at the Southington Community YMCA, said that the volunteers who help out with Race 4 Chase will be assisting younger children with a six-week training program leading up to the triathalon, which is held each August in memory of Chase Kowalski – a young athlete who was killed in the Sandy Hook shooting. The training program will be held Monday through Friday, from 8:30 to 11:30 a.m., starting June 24, at the Y.
“Volunteers will be working with youth helping them to ride bikes, running with them, and moving bike equipment in and out,” said Miceli. “They will also be accompanying kids on four field trips to YMCA Camp Sloper where they will do practice runs before race day.”
Miceli said that the Y is looking for 15 volunteers to help out with this program. Applications can be found at the Y at 29 High St. The Triathalon itself will be held Aug.3, with a rain date of Aug. 4, at YMCA Camp Sloper.
The third volunteer opportunity, the Southington Farmers Market, runs every Friday from July to October on the Town Green across from the Town Hall at 75 Main St., from 3 to 6 p.m. All produce and products sold at the market are either grown in Connecticut or made with Connecticut products.
“Volunteers at the Farmer’s Market will be helping the farmers,” said John Sperduti, counselor with Southington Youth Services. “They will help them unload their produce and set up. Then, once they are done with that, they will wander around and introduce themselves to people who they think could need help carrying their produce to their cars and assist with that.”
For more information, or to schedule an interview, call Southington Youth Services at 860-276-6281.
Brian M. Johnson can be reached at 860-973-1806 or firstname.lastname@example.org.