Malcolm Gaynor, staff writer

The Portage area boasts many great opportunities to help and give back to people in need. Incoming freshmen must complete a total of ten hours of community service over the course of the school year. While some freshmen think it’s unfair for the school to control free time, this mandatory volunteering helps to benefit the community and inspires students to continue giving back in the future.

By volunteering, students can meet new friends and gain valuable experiences from working with and helping people of all different backgrounds. Community service engages freshmen in helping the community, bettering lives and creating a culture of selflessness.   

One popular freshmen volunteering opportunity is Portage Northern’s Breadlift fundraiser. According to PN Senate advisor and social studies teacher Kellie Pittman, “more than half of [Breadlifters] were freshmen.”

Pittman believes the requirement inspires students to volunteer outside of mandatory hours, explaining that “the promise of getting those five community service hours reels them in, but the excitement and camaraderie keeps them coming back.”

Therefore, freshmen gain a love for volunteering past required hours. For example, sophomore David Le participated in Breadlift both as a freshman and sophomore. Without freshmen community service requirements, Breadlift may not be the big Huskie tradition it is today.

Freshmen community service gives students experience building important skills. “[Volunteering] builds important skills that [students] will need,” said Pittman. “Working with adults and learning communication skills” are a few of the reasons she thinks freshmen students benefit from the requirement. These skills are mostly developed outside of school and volunteering is a great way to improve them.

Opposers of required volunteer hours say that community service should come from a heartfelt desire to help others, not from an educational mandate. However, freshmen requirements inspire students to continue serving the community in the future and teach students valuable life lessons.

Community service helps people regardless if freshmen are passionate about it. As sophomore Zach Lewis explains, “helping people is always good in general.” Heartfelt or not, freshmen volunteering still helps the community. Freshmen community service requirement should stand because of its many benefits to the community and the volunteers themselves.